Neil Flatman




Ear Worm

(2018 ABC)

What keeps me awake at night: tumble-drying
in the warm utility of the mind, rotating
with the work shirts and her unforgiving thongs
is not the crises of the world: fat thumb
of the despot’s hand above the small red button
or the plastic patch in the pacific larger and less
fragrant than the whole of France. Nor
is it the little irritations: the parking space
stolen after the octogenarian finally found reverse
in the winter dark, a couple, stationary, their roll-on’s
a barricade across the airport travellator,
but something you might understand, so can we
make a pact like lovers standing hand in hand
before the jump, or secret agents swapping spies
on a foggy bridge? Swear you won’t reveal my fear
of hearing Billy Collins read. That unique voice
and the ironic pause, dry humour and mesmeric close,
so easy to fall into as I lie here in the small hours:
jade glow of the alarm clock beaming gently through
the dark, the sound of a trash man singing softly
in Armenian as he passes the house.



Neil Flatman is an alum of The Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and the Tin House summer workshop. He’s been published in print and online at, among others, Ithaca Lit, Panoply and The Paragon Press. He lives and works in Singapore.

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