International Literary Exchange: The Wanker by James Poole

international literary exchange, Poetry











The Kettlebrook Wanker

                                                   (An Introduction to Lorraine)


When the Wanker walked, he talked

and when he drank he talked

and when he talked you listened,

or bought him a schooner

just to give the air

a chance to stale.


He cornered me in Kettlebrook

the famous Wanker.

Wearing cowboy urban

with a pop shirt reading

‘rock of the eighties!’


And a blonde bleached macho grip

on his lip.


When he arrived the lip dropped

and dropped

and didn’t stop

until the air consisted of his posterior narration

and little else.

‘Capital B’ the witty blokes called it.

(bullshit to the simple)


Backs against wall, egos hold

their breath as the Wanker shushes


the crowd, beer stilted pause as he speaks


[takes a sip]

he spills his amber in gesticulation

before diving in-

to another anecdote.


This time, about Willow (maybe Wayne)

and the time their mate

Benny wasn’t half cut,

and found himself pissing

against a window:

mistook for a trough.

(where three girls were seated)

The yellow trickle rain

washed the glass (middle aged stain)


and the pub laughed

and cacked

and the girls,

unaware of Benny

behind, (like the Wanker)

couldn’t understand why

everyone was



But the Wanker doesn’t stop.

He just pauses, takes

another sip

and continues.


He’s courting the girls

in the pub. They’re

too young,

and he’s

too drunk.

Pool table insight fancies

him a quick grope,

before the birds move on

and the Wanker

Is left



“It’s not the first time”

He tells me.

Loudly. Yells at me.

“You’re fairly young


I bet you’re knocking around with

some spunk. What’s you’re name?” Russell “Mate,

let me tell you, these birds could have their wings

cut compare

to girls I’ve had, with all

their bits in

the right places.”

Before he concludes, I ask

for a name, he cuts me off quickly


and continues.



(From the Wanker’s Lips)

How love has never lost as much as I have lost Lorraine.

A gorgeous girl: the kind that made the passing bloke stop,

forgetting their private concerns,

and gather (against their very nature) a token:

grit and shells

to measure their humble



And when she’d finish

making boys of the men, and

men of the boys, she’d let the others

see her with her latest catch. So they’d

get to watch as

Lorraine shared another boy

with herself.


I lived next door to Lorraine.

Sometimes, late a night, I could almost

peak Into her window. I Imagined seeing

her naked, rounded and calm,

beckoning me gently

over the thin drain channel

that separated our



Oh how I’d have built a bridge for Lorraine,

just to have her for a night.

Paul McGuiness bet I couldn’t do it.

called Lorraine the ‘early bloomer’

a predator of a woman, not a girl,

who liked sea shells with grit

and not pearly guts.


But I was sixteen! (and never lost a bet)

And wrote her a poem, addressed as follows:

Dear Lorraine,

              Your name is gentle to the ear,

              You smell like grass and peaches.

              I’d cross my heart, and show no fear;

              If you’d be with me at the pictures.





          At the Pictures: Jewjella Chews and the Smell of Liquorice

(The Wanker Recalls)


You never smelt your best

the way you did at the pictures.

Fred Holloway took Janine Richers

there once. Told me after

the trick was a two part procedure:

One: get the right lollies

Two: wait for the romantic bit


He said he was smooth, bought

her Jewjella chews

and All Sorts

(that’s the trick he said)

and by halfway through

the interval

she was kissing Fred

and eating

from his hands.

He made it all the way

too, graduated man club,

and told us that

by the end of the picture,









I think they saw Doctor Zhivago .

It wasn’t showing when Lorraine

agreed to go with me, so I

took her to see

Son of El Cid



When we arrived

the theatre was dark

and Lorraine was

wearing maroon. I’d nicked

a tie from my Dad’s cupboard,

and some aftershave too.

I was done up like Gable,

Brill cream hair slicked and

globed on thick

I just thought ‘‘here I am:

me and Lorraine.

sitting next to each other

at the pictures’’

I didn’t know what to say or do.

She bought her own liquorice

for the show, and chewed it

loudly. Lorraine was a man eater: a shark!

What did she expect me to do?

I tried to think back

to my sex ed class,

or something Fred Holloway


‘Let her hold the popcorn.’

He said.

‘You can brush her arm

as you pass to grasp

the box in her lap’


I tried this, got nervous and


punching Lorraine

In the


She swore, then chuckled

Then laughed, then kept

watching the picture. I could

smell the liquorice on her



I waited some more. Hoping

The Son of El Sid, might give me

an opportunity to make

a move like Fred. Lorraine

was notorious for this

sort of thing and I

figured it couldn’t

be too hard.


Before I could decide

what I should


she swooped.

Caught me of guard,

liquorice lips

tasting of aniseed

and clammy hands

peeling back

my ears.


It was a hot, wet mess.

Lorraine was nothing

but tongue and my checks

were red, and my

hands gripped nothing but

the air.
It was like Christmas

or Easter

or both.


When it was over, she invited me

back to her house, we

walked there from the

pictures in silence.

It was dark when we

arrived. I still

tasted like liquorice as

we went up the stairs

to her room,

where we sat

on her bed

and said nothing.


If I was game I

would have said


charming or witty that

might get her to

move closer, or

at least get her talking.


But I didn’t.


And Neither did she.


We did not touch,


We did not speak.


We just sat there in quiet.

Stayed up all night

too, waited

till morning.


And to this day I swear, when

it finally came up:

that sunrise

never looked so good,

and never would




A Looker, Sticky and Gay

(My final thoughts of the Wanker)



I stand in awe of Lorraine.

Quiet by the bar, listening

as the Wanker keeps on talking

always talking

Like he can’t stop.

A compulsion

driven by some

maddening force

he can’t control.

Or at least

chooses not to.



I hear nothing but “Lorraine.”

I have to cut him off,

when I can,

pressing a question

in the space that

forms between



“What happened to her?”


He tells me they

got married, and

had a couple

of  kids together. He

Keeps talking after that

but when the Wanker’s

glass is empty he
leaves me

with a bloke

named Sticky,

while he’s off

to get a schooner,

and take another piss.


Sticky doesn’t talk

like the Wanker or

anyone else.

He just listens with a beer,

get’s the jist, and

nods politely.

I take a drink

so that the air

doesn’t feel so awkward


I ask if Sticky’s ever heard

of the famous


He nods, but says


As he does, I

can see;

the Wanker

stumbling back toward


Winding past

another pack

of girls.



He changes course

to meet them. Banging

his leg on a pool

table as he

crosses the room.

He seems to

ignore it and the girls


but he just smiles back and




I see him,

dribbling compliments

on the ladies. His

elbows cocked

and head



as he tries to form

a sentence

or a line

from a movie

he’s seen:

(before these girls were born)

where someone like


can have girls

like them

and isn’t



I turn away, and realise

it’s too late, and

I have to go.
I gather my things

to leave the pub,

look at Sticky,

and ask

before I go:


“Is he still with Lorraine?”


Sticky shakes his head.


“Left him for another woman.”


I look at the Wanker;

who is telling a story

to the girls

who are laughing,

but not at the jokes:

at the Wanker.

Whose just

standing there-

Trying to find


that sunrise








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