Me and Kenneth Williams
We met over suds in the Russell Square laundrette.
Afternoons, we lie together on his single bed
slacks, socks, shirts and v-neck sweaters on.
Watching or not watching each other’s closeness.
The national anthem plays on the television.
The Beeb keeps us in taxis and sensible shoes.
I feel favourite for now, I’ve been given the spare door key
but also a list of times it’s O.K. for me to pop by.
I speak affected, I’ve hoovered up the language of Ken,
my PhD supervisors would prefer a spoken English
typewritten, clear with square-edged vowels.
Mother claims not to understand in our weekly calls.
Ken insists I use his ‘phone in the hallway
but I tell her I am in the booth on Coram Street.
He sings again on a chat show,
his Edith Piaf send up Ma Crepe Suzette
in amongst the jokes the code I listen for:
Corsage, Massage, Frere Jacques
Salon, Par Avion, Petula Clarke
Fiancee, ensemble, laundrette
Entourage, ma crepe suzette.
The poem originally appeared in my pamphlet, The Living Museum, published by Selcouth Station Press. Available here!