Poem – The Boxing Day Penitents

The Boxing Day Penitents
(for “That Bloody Woman”)

They confess their crimes in mid-morning mirrors:
‘Bless me, Father, for I have binged.’
‘Well, three Hail Marys and five times around the park
you go, in a Lycra jumpsuit.
(Or that festive onesie, you know which one.)

Tips of fabric antlers
bob over holly bushes.
Thick breath condenses,
twirls of steam mahogany with port,
or bronze with booze-saturated fruit.

They jog themselves virtuous
circle the park with uniform determination.
Gooseflesh a reminder of last night’s turkey,
roast, trimmings, globs of gravy.
The ghost of Christmas past.

A suet glaze on their brow.
Winter sunlight stripes the skyline white.
Amateur cartilage grates
from a lack of warm-up.
Later, they will be on their knees.

Oh Lord,

forgive my thinspiration,
but let me trim the Lipo off.
Allow me penance for a Slimming World.

Dear Lord, please tell me how I can live a Lighter Life.
How should I count Points in a homemade mince pie?
I will Slim Fast, become beautiful in my worship.


The blackbird celebrates St Stephen’s day
feasts on a worm tugged from fresh, wet soil.

Some penitents remain festive,
silver tinsel tames ponytails
that bounce against rattling vertebrae.

They disgust themselves,
whip their eyes with impossible images.
Squeeze sinful rolls of midriff flesh
between fingertips, puff out their cheeks.

There’s no sweet victory in this morning jog,
just a painful thump in the lower back,
just freezing muscles, the constant ache.

Once you’re stripped of this excess flesh
who will love the bones of you?