'On Tender Hooks' a poem by Brian Bilston

A poem and diary entry from the Banksy of poetry and Picador poet, Brian Bilston.

17/04/2018
2 minutes to read

Heralded as Twitter’s unofficial Poet Laureate, Brian Bilston's identity is shrouded in mystery. Here we share a poem and diary entry from this beloved (on, and off social media) poet and author.

Let me cut to the cheese:
every time you open your mouth,
I’m on tender hooks.

You charge at the English language
like a bowl in a china shop.
Please nip it in the butt.

On the spurt of the moment,
the phrases tumble out.
It’s time you gave up the goat.

Curve your enthusiasm.  
Don’t give them free range.
The chickens will come home to roast.

Now you are in high dungeon.
You think me a damp squid:
on your phrases I shouldn’t impose.

But they spread like wildflowers
in a doggy-dog world,
and your spear of influence grows.


April 20th

Picador have shown some interest in publishing my diary and I am on tender hooks. I could really do with the money; it’s not easy to scrape an existence from poetry and, in recent times, it’s become increasingly difficult to make hen’s meat. I just hope it passes mustard.

I shared the news at Poetry Club. Toby Salt turned as white as a sheep! I think he’s worried that my book will eclipse his collection of ‘poetry’, This Bridge No Hands Shall Cleft. As usual, he began casting nasturtiums about my own verse. I should sue him for deformation of character.

I gave him a murderous look.

Liz must have noticed because she placed her hand on my arm as if to restrain me. I may have to write a poem about that later. But the thought of her made me girdle my loins: now was not the time for any spurt-of-the moment grand gestures.  

Instead, I simply flicked an empty pistachio shell into Toby Salt’s pint of real ale and finished my drink with dignity. I left without further adieu.


Image credit: Joe Berger


Diary of a Somebody

by Brian Bilston

Book cover for 9781529005561

Brian Bilston’s Diary of a Somebody is a brilliant spin-off of George and Weedon Grossmith’s original comic tale, The Diary of a Nobody. Both told in diary form, George and Weedon document the ups and downs of pompous Charles Pooter in a satire of middle-class suburbia. Whilst using poetry, Brian navigates the everyday monotony of spreadsheets, ex-wives and his arch-nemesis, Toby Salt.

Alexa, what is there to know about love?

by Brian Bilston

Book cover for 9781529059588

Alexa, what is there to know about Love? is a wonderful collection of poems about love in all its forms, covering everything from romantic love to familial love, to long-distance love, and even love on the internet.