A cigarette tastes better when the house is full
To say a tree begins at the bark
is like saying a killer
begins at the killing.
My girlfriend says
I need to work
on my dinner party chat.
Keep it light.
Over the ratatouille
a gardener tells me
to stop the roots raising the pavement
the council trim the tips of the branches.
are better stories.
It takes dessert
for someone to be reminded
of the man murdered by police.
They thought he was a terrorist
but it turns out
there was something
in his eyes.
Everyone is shaking their heads
before wishing they smoked.
Outside I lose a staring match with the moon.
The road is a spinal chord,
the trees, severed nerve endings.
ARJI MANUELPILLAI is a poet, performer, facilitator, former Jerwood Arvon Mentee and member of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen. This poem is part of a new collection called Improvised Explosive Device which is out in October with Penned in the Margins.