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Cold Porridge in the Kitchen Sink (editor's pick)

today is no different to yesterday

because the shaking in his veins hasn't subsided yet,

because his trousers still crumple (no matter how they are hung),

because he still has a hair for every

thinning, grey year he stays alive.

he wonders if cafes mock him

for always leaving the final clue of their crosswords

empty, even if he knows the answer,

whether they talk about him behind closed doors,

wonder why he always orders two coffees (extra hot)

and only ever drinks one.

he learned how to make porridge in the microwave,

and found a cereal that wouldn’t aggravate his cholesterol,

when the doctors told him to stop skipping breakfast -

before he stopped visiting the doctor at all.

he is the sort of man that walks through life


startled by voicemail beeps and car horns,

whose embrace - like an arcade claw -

lets relatives slip from his grasp.

he sleeps as sarchophagi do,

and when he creaks out of bed with the sunrise,

one of two pillows remains untouched.

he hasn't introduced himself to someone in so long,

that when the insurance men call

and ask for his name,

he stumbles over 'artie'

and pauses

settling on 'arthur' –

as creatures of habit do.

he answers their questions every time,

as creatures of habit do.

and watches the news at ten o'clock,

as creatures of habit do.

and buys flowers for his wife every friday,

as creatures of habit do.

* * *

routine breaks



asleep on the sofa, after lunch.

he calls his daughter, when -

if -

he remembers.

a van morrison record begins to circumnavigate

the soft curves of the fireplace and

lays itself in the places where the light creeps in,

whispering sweet nothings to the fraying on the carpet,

worn out by the heeled shoes of the brown-eyed girl

he's always loved.

arthur dances

and dances,

and shuffles

and sits,

and realises he can’t stand up as easily anymore.

* * *

he leaves the final clue in every crossword puzzle,

for his angel to solve up in heaven,

and prays she doesn't find six years of daisies boring.

he leaves the second bowl of porridge by the kitchen sink

and replays his voicemail -

“you've reached edie and artie,

leave your message after the beep"

and knows if he listens close enough,

he can hear her chortle

before putting down the phone

only he keeps forgetting

whether he had kissed her neck

or tickled the base of her spine with a feather,

or overboiled the pasta,

or mouthed the words that made her laugh the first time

somewhere -

in her pressed blouse,

with all her beautiful ideas

brimming at the edges of her smile

* * *

the funeral

is the only thing he remembers these days,

with a stranger in his place

at the foot of her grave –

telling her I love you like I never lost you in the first place

* * *

Maiya Dambawinna is an 18 year old, aspiring poet, writer and student from the UK. She co-created Honey Machine Magazine and was Foyle Young Poet of the Year in 2018. From October 2019, she is the new contributing editor for Iceberg Tales. Cold Porridge in the Kitchen Sink was selected by editor-in-chief JP Santamaria as his 'editor's pick' from our debut print edition to be shared in our online publication.

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