‘His work has a winning gentleness, a seductive voice that draws you in, ensnares you and captivates you.’ – Ian McMillan.
I do poetry gigs sometimes. I’ve got a new book called No-one cares about your new thing.
If you want to book me for anything poetry related get in touch at email@example.com.
My first full poetry collection Most people aren’t that happy, anyway was published by Nasty Little Press as well as two pamphlets – The New Blur Album and What if men burst in wearing balaclavas? I also perform at festivals including Latitude, Glastonbury, Bestival and the Edinburgh Fringe. I have had poems included in anthologies including the 2013 Forward Prize, Popshot and Fuselit.
Snorkelling in the Bahamas
We were snorkelling in the Bahamas
our hotel breakfast included
complimentary half bottles of champagne
and in the evenings we would wolf down lobster
like it was Findus Crispy Pancakes.
It was sitting in the Jacuzzi that I realised
we have to make the most of this
because in the future there will be phone calls.
Family will be taken ill, friends will move away.
Maybe your brother will phone and say
‘It’s mum,’ and I will feel helpless.
but I will be out in the car
with the engine running
and driving through the night time
it will feel another lifetime
that we were snorkelling in the Bahamas.
I don’t want anything bad to ever happen to you.
When you ran out of teabags last night it broke my heart
and when you trapped your little finger in the oven door
it felt like I was having an aneurysm.
We both know your fish will die
you will stand on upturned plugs
there will be mornings you don’t want to get out of bed.
You will have arguments with shop assistants
injections at the dentist
and fill out forms.
Because things won’t always be the way they were
when we were snorkelling in the Bahamas
glugging champagne from pint glasses
on the beach at midnight.
Looking after some bloke’s bag in a pub
Anyone in this pub would assume
we are best friends or brothers.
You can only sit in silence
with loved ones or strangers but this man
put his hand on an empty chair
and asked ‘Is there anyone sitting there?’
and for ten minutes he just sat there with his pint, staring
no book to read or phone to scroll
and then he rolled a cigarette and said
can you look after my bag?
I carried on eating my onion rings but I couldn’t relax
because I was so aware of his dark green Reebok rucksack.
The pub was getting busier
and he had been gone for so long
and when someone tried to take his chair I said
‘sorry, someone’s sitting there’
suddenly so protective
terrified of letting him down
then it happened again and I had to snatch the chair back
and this time I just shook my head ‘no’
as though I was looking after the chair
for my best friend or brother
and I thought if only this guy had sat somewhere else.
But when he came back and sat down again and carried on staring
he had no idea how much I’d battled
to keep that only unsat on chair in London.
So often we are unrewarded.
No-one is around to say ‘you did well there’
but you soon learn that’s not important
sometimes all that matters is that you do not fail
and whenever you start to panic, remember:
there is no limit in our ability to care for things.
Looking for the teabags
In most kitchens there’d probably be some
in a box near the kettle
but not here. It’s early. You are asleep
and I am looking for the teabags.
You don’t know your way around a house
until you can do it in the dark.
Hopefully that will come one day but for now
I’m being guided by the light of the fridge
because I can’t find the light switch
but I have worked out how to use the kettle.
I’ve found two decent sized mugs
and I’ve remembered you don’t like milk.
I’ve found where you keep your tins of things
and the cupboard of plates and bowls
I’m looking at your half eaten boxes of cereal.
The kettle boils. I can’t quite believe we’ve got this far.
The floor is cold on my bare feet but I don’t mind
because maybe one day I will keep slippers here.
The sun is just rising and your alarm will go off soon
and next to the breadbin I find it. A jar marked ‘tea.’
I’ve also had two poetry pamphlets published by Nasty Little Press:
What if men burst in wearing balaclavas? (published by Nasty Little Press, February 2010).
“Yes, I like these poems. There is a warmth, as you’d expect with a balaclava in the title.”
“John writes with the intelligence and wit of your favourite teacher but with the soul of a five-year-old boy. His poems capture the ‘un-finger-put-on-able’ moments.”
[Out of stock.]
The New Blur Album (published by Nasty Little Press, November 2011).
‘An easy read, not a word out of place—a poetic Nick Hornby for the next generation.’ – Sphinx Magazine.
“John Osborne’s work is wildly imaginative, big-hearted and refreshingly life-affirming. Even at its darkest and most surreal there’s a joy in language, ideas and, ultimately, people that leaves you feeling like looking outwards again. Work that makes you happy in at least eight different ways.” Luke Kennard.
Here are a couple of videos from a performance at Literary Death Match in 2011.