The Best of Bernard Young
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The Best of Bernard Young
This is a collection of my favourite blips from Bernard Young's journal as a first filter to select for his next book.
Curated by Karen Cropper
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Damp Seeps Through | BernardYoung

Damp Seeps Through
It leaks into the foundations.
It creeps into the crevices.

It pains the bones.
Penetrates the joints.
Is absorbed by the brain.

The damp seeps through
and there’s little we can do
except try
and keep her dry.

It heralds a decline.
A crumbling.

‘Pissing piss!’ she says
when things go wrong.

In her frustration
she wants to thump someone
but then the tears come.

More water!

Water pours from her eyes
and the waters rise.

The damp seeps through
and we can see she’s drowning.
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When The Past Shows Its Face

The façade crumbles
when the past shows its face.

'Why are you here?
Go. Just go. Leave. I have
a family now. Go. Please.'

It breaks through. The past.
It breaks through.

'What's the matter? 
You look as though
you've seen a ghost.'

'I'm fine.'



'Who was that?'

'No one darling.
It was no one.'

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Impossible Partners

Mine insisted that the house was neat
When she hoovered the lounge I had to lift my feet

Mine would have driven me to an early grave
She expected me to wash and shave

Mine used to rule the roost
She dared to talk while I read Proust

Mine always had an aching head
When I licked my lips and said 'It's time for bed'

I woke up one morning and mine was gone
Is it possible to get another one?

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Light Saviour

Light Saviour | The Best of Bernard Young |
In the square below the large bright LIGHT

the rapper has us fooled.
We're being lulled by the beat
and the blistering heat
and not paying attention
to what he has to say
until the rhythm slows
and the volume lessens
and we realise he's telling us
how Jesus died for us 
and how he's been saved
and are there any amongst us
who want to allow Jesus
into our lives?

Doesn't look like it.

We've seen the LIGHT
but we've not seen the light.

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Seeing the Light

I've heard talk of a light
at the end of a tunnel.
You walk towards it
and vanish. Magic.

Perhaps it's a light
at the top of some stairs?
You climb them
and disappear into it?

And some believe you carry on
in some form or other.

I think they're wrong.
I think you're well and truly gone.

I could be wrong. 
But not to worry.

I can wait to find out.
No hurry.

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Body Talk

Tucked away, in the depths
of the freezer, among the
chicken breasts and loaves,
is his cold shoulder.

His wild roving eye is a-roving
no longer.
His bloody cheek
is in the dustbin.

The spleen he used to vent is adrift
with the finger he never used to lift.
The back of his hand
is in the glove compartment.

And this? You know what this bit is.
Its a pain in the arse.
He used to trouble me with it
three times a week. Of course

I looked for his heart
in the padlocked chest
of our questionable marriage
but his heart wasn't in it.

I looked and I hacked
and I chopped and I hoped
and I searched and I sliced
and I and I and I

cancelled my order with the family butcher.
I cancelled the papers and milk.
I opened my mouth 
and put his foot in it.

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Love Again

It may have been
the easy smile
or it could have been
the eyes
that turned the world
upside down
and took him
by surprise.

What started as a rumour
between his heart
and brain
became fact,
not fiction.

The boy's in love.

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Said Mr to Mrs

Let me go first
You must stay

You may follow
But not today

Feel free to linger
Please be late

Take your time
I will wait

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The Two Of You

You've reached the point
where the two of you
can no longer inhabit the same pond.

You feel about as sexy
as a shopping trolley
when you're in the other's company.

There was a time when, together,
you felt you could walk on water.
Now you just get in a flap.

It's not going swimmingly is it.
You bring each other down.
Stay put and you'll drown.

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There's been some coming and going.
Some toing and froing.
Some twists and turns.

But things are looking up.
Moving forward. Moving on.

They've both, as it were,
seen the light.

The solicitor is just around the corner.
His will speak to hers.
Hers will speak to his.

And then, perhaps,
around a table,
they will all be able 
to see




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I thought that I was easy going.
I must have got that wrong.
It must be me with the explosive temper.
Me who's a walking time bomb.

It must be me with the box of grudges.
I thought that it was you.
But you're in charge of the fireworks, baby.
What you say is true?

I reckon I'm a decent guy.
The sort of chap you'd choose
to calm a situation -
not a bloke with a very short fuse.

Build a bonfire. Burn me
if I'm such a joke.
Strike a match. Stand well back.
Watch me go up in smoke.

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Have you ever been left wondering

how you ended up there? There,
in that position
among the craters and the holes
of your existence?


You're looking for that buried bone.
You're thinking you should have known
(at your age) better.

You're thinking, life is a bitch.
You're desperate for a reason
to wag your tail.

You're still hoping someone
will throw you a stick.
Teach you a new trick.

And, even as you howl,
you're thinking you fucking well deserve
to have your day.

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Anything that's broken
I will mend

Anything that needs to go
I will send

Anytime you call me
I shall attend

You can ask me anything
I am your friend

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Lonesome Town

I know you've visited Lonesome Town
where the sight of a couple can bring you down.

I know you've trudged along Lonely Street
feeling lost and incomplete.

I know you've stared at a dark window.
Seen your reflection looking drained and low.

You're wondering now, how do I know?
I've been there. That's how I know.

Karen Cropper's insight:

An old forgotten blip

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When I'm a bit wobbly
and you need wheeling around
we'll still go out
for a lunchtime tipple.

I'll be on brandy
by then and you'll fancy
a nip of rum in your tea
to keep the chills at bay.

Our days will move slowly.
We'll progress along the High Street,
turn left at the jeweller's
and make our way to the bar on the corner.

We'll sit at our usual table
and watch the young world go by.
By then we'll have had enough
of town.

We'll return home,
for wild sex I expect,
or to fall asleep 
in front of Countdown.

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The Lightsaber Kid

The Lightsaber Kid | The Best of Bernard Young |

Open the lid
and out jumps
The Lightsaber Kid.

I want to call
the piece of tubing he uses
a Light Saver.

He calls it a Light Chamber.

He deflects bullets with it.


I made a vid
of him in action.
He liked it.

OK kid,
I said,
get back in your box.

So he did


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Tough | The Best of Bernard Young |

It's a tough job being a poet.
I'm surprised it's not better paid.
Perhaps there should be guided tours of workshops
so non-poets can see how poems are made?

There's no respite if you're a poet. 
You're working all the time.
You have to get on it if there's a call for a sonnet.
And people expect you to rhyme.

It's more demanding than being a surgeon.
It's harder than digging a road.
We deserve much longer holidays than teachers.
It can be stressful writing an ode.

We sometimes work until lunchtime
if we need to complete a quatrain.
Yes, it's a tough job being a poet
but you'll never hear us complain.

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New Man

My father changed his body.

The first time he came home
with the new one
I didn't recognize him.

Mum said,
'This is your Dad.'

I clambered over his gigantic feet.
Investigated his massive head.
Admired his shoulders.
His thick, strong arms.

'Run along now.'
The voice was different too.

Sometimes we'd see Dad's old body
looking, I must say,
the worse for wear.

Its new owner clearly
wasn't looking after it properly.

It would wave
but Mum said ignore it.

It only came to the house once
- to collect its clothes.
Mum had thrown them
into the garden.

That, apart from the occasion
when it shouted after me
something like 'Son, son
speak to me'
and I hurried on,
was the last I saw of it.

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We Are Not On The Same Page

My smile is a snarl
Your thank you is a demand
My simple explanation 
Is not something you understand

Your harmony is my cacophony
My love song is your blues
The gift you think I'd love
Is not something I would choose

I turn to a new page
You turn over a new leaf
I walk through the door
You get up and leave

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Fooled Again

The smile that formed
so easily
The eyes that shone
so bright
on an evening flight
as day turned
into night

And love was just a rumour
between his heart
and brain,
as unreal
as a fairy tale

He won't get fooled again

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Do you think
your temperature will rise
your heart will lift

Do you think
you'll float her boat
she'll remove her coat

Do you think
when you're with her
you'll walk on air

Do you believe
you'll be unburdened

I might

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A pair
may appear
to be close

when you peer
through the gloom
of the room

but the pair
who appear
to be close

perhaps recoil
once the door
has been closed?

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To hold a loved one's face
and kiss in a public place
is something 
I might have frowned upon
and been jealous of
before I found love
and rediscovered 
what a joy it is 
to kiss like this.

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Every Evening He Drinks Alone

Remember: one man's ceiling
is another man's floor
- Paul Simon

Every evening he drinks alone.
And every evening all the minor irritations
are transformed into major problems.
The nearly negligible noise of a neighbour
now deafening him. Defining him
as a man troubled.

A troubled man dreaming
of a soundproofed room
where he could wail if he chose to
or play dance music
where the bass dominates
and would reverberate
through the ceilings and floors
and walls right up to the bedrooms
of the other occupants
in the block
if he were not in a soundproofed room.

But after another drink
he puts his music on anyway
and waits for a hammer
or the heel of a stiletto
to come through his ceiling
which he will ignore
and likewise their calling
when they come knock knock knocking
on his door.

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