In the Year of the Chocolate Muffin

Landfall 209, 2006


I read the first page of every new novel,


I frothed the nozzle of a cappuccino machine badly,

steam bursting out like the snort of an angry cow


I dined on Weetbix laced with white sugar

soaked in puddles of skim milk


I cried fitfully in uncontrollable waves

sobs shaking my body like rain


I watched my feet cooling at the other end of the bath

cars fizzing by on the street outside


I thought of all I had failed to achieve:

certificates, golden statues, an A+ in Science and an all-over tan


I stuffed myself with Starbucks every morning

shoving each synthetic muffin down – greedy for sunshine


I phoned home from call boxes feeling as remote as ET

the shadow of red double-decker buses sailing across petrol-streaked

puddles in the neon moonlight


I dreamt of all the men I had loved:

the poet, the junkie and the small beautiful alcoholic,

the yin and yang branding on his six-pack stomach


I prayed to God for the first time in years

using him the way other people use electricity


I looked upon the loveliness of the moon

its perfect white symmetry

the way its rays of light touch the blackened tips of trees.


In the year of the chocolate muffin

I lived under that moon

holding it against me like a heart.


I walked out of the Purple Turtle café,

gathering my dignity in the palm of my hand

clenching it into a fist


I laughed loudly and listened to the drunks singing

outside The World’s End

and the hiss of frying fish n’ chips


I protected my ego in an oversize khaki jacket

from all the clothes that wouldn’t fit

consoling it with KitKat chunky bars and cans of Coca-Cola

(Those age old weapons of self-destruction.)


I lived close to mice and found their droppings

littered in a packet of old muesli


I lit a gas oven for the first time

my fingers leaping away from the blue flame in fright


I tried the patience of everyone I knew

and knew I was doing it

but couldn’t stop

words bubbling on my lips like cold sores


I paid a naturopath

her pendulum was small and purple and pale

like a leaf


I quit my office job and tried to write a book in a week

in the year of the chocolate muffin

I gave up wheat.


image: Alexis Hunter, Rat 3 (Camden Town Series), oil on paper, 1991.