March 2020

Back to Issue 7

Birthday Boy

By Sean West

After Jan Senbergs’s News, 1991


You still won’t be old 

enough yet to remember this

year’s birthday in hindsight


Cannot sit still as you lick 

oil, savour softest bits like

frosting smeared across 


your forehead. You tear 

open presents with your teeth

ones we stole just 


for you. You’ve grown 

healthy and strong on 

a strict diet of conflict


Passed the parcel with 

bones we’ve forgotten 

all the Latin names for  


When somebody 

at the party captures 

you on polaroid, I warn


them not to shake 

it but hold you still, let

your image chain-react


They place the warm 

picture down as a trillion 

tiny pupils swarm into


focus. Your eyes

come out red

You ruined it.