The mock turtle is all things to all men’

I’ll be standing at the bar

when you and your friends come in.

You see me, head down,

and I’m too shell to turn you away.

You want to slip me out

and feel me see me naked on the floor

without my own kind

of backbone, but my armour disc collection

doesn’t bend like that. I’m different because

that was the only way to be different at the time,

I needed to be more unturtley, less seaweed,

more oats and rye.


I am reptile in my taste in books, mammal in my music,

my scale hands cut bread and my skin ones open cans.

Evolving later doesn’t make you better,

it just makes you different, and if my closest relatives

still sometimes walk across each other’s tracks

then they must’ve been equally good

enough to make the cut for this programme we’re making

called the modern world.

So I’m standing at the bar

and when you come in I’m going to breathe and

I’m going to think very hard, and you’ll

think first and then breathe, and I’ll be going home

soon after because I wasn’t feeling

that kind of night.

unpublished poem, © Adham Smart 2019, used by permission of the author.

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