An Education (In Manchester)

It dawned on me the other day that September 2019 marks the start of mine and many of my closest friends’ fifth year in Manchester. Now feeling sentimental about how special Manchester is, I decided to share this little song I wrote about it when finishing off the old undergraduate degree.

I have spent three years falling in love,
with a city I have learned to call my home,
and even though there’s too many roadworks,
it’s a city that has crept under my bones.

I have spent three years studying something,
though I’m still not sure what I have learned,
and I’ve met some people that I’ll know for all my life,
and none of us will pay off our student loans.

We may not know what the future holds,
but it’ll damn sure be exciting.
We may not know how our lives will unfold,
but hopes and dreams will always seem inviting.

I have spent three years to get a number,
a Damian Hurst, a Desmond Tutu or a third,
and I still don’t know who I am,
or who I’m meant to be.

But I’ve found somewhere I feel I belong,
and I even went and wrote this f***ing song about it,
and I apologise for going on so long,
and I haven’t got a last line yet.

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A Poem Called Peanuts

I’m paid peanuts.
Peanuts is what I’m paid.

People pooh-pooh my payment in peanuts.
It’s simply preposterous, the people purvey.
Better than payment in pennies, I say.

Politicians won’t propose a petty peanut tax,
And if they do, I’ll eat the lot;
Peanuts are one of my favourite snacks.

I’ve got a peanuts pension,
And peanut premium bonds as well.
Investing peanuts in Walnut Street,
My peanut portfolio expands and swells.

I implore you ask your place of work:
Can I be paid in peanuts too?
They might just gawp and say that’s nuts!
But I promise that they won’t argue…

 – Max Thomas (2019)

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Our father, who art not home, ran when I was three.
My mother’s heart is locked in love, her tears stirred in her tea.
What would you like for dinner dear? Every meal’s the same.
Cooking’s rather good for me! She slowly bakes her shame.

I can’t remember my own dad, but every day he’s here.
Bubbling, boiling through my blood. Is he the puppeteer?
I cut myself to set him free, the parasite who dwells.
Go! I say, I shout, I scream. He’s trapped within my cells.

Can a flower change its shade? Can a sinner learn to pray?
Pervasive, patriarchal thrust, that stains like Midas and his lust.
His cells pass on his DNA, if only I could break away.

This is his body. This is his blood.
Take them I’ve been given duds.
When I grow old, so does he. He’s in the mirror copying me.

My mother cannot look at me; she says I have his shark-like eyes.
He worms up through my spinal cord and uses me as his disguise.

I think we think it’s me who thinks, our speech in sync cells interlinked.
We are one. We wear my skin. Peel it back and you’ll find him.

– Max Thomas (2015)

This poem won Second Prize in The University of Oxford’s Tower Poetry Competition in 2015. Click here for a live reading by the author.


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Max Miller becomes Max Thomas…

The last poetic post I made was under the name of Max Miller on 4th October in 2014.

Whilst a far more romantic and alliterative name, Max Miller was in fact a pseudonym, and I’ve since decided to write under my given name: Max Thomas. The reason for this assumed pseudonym was originally to keep the blog hidden from my peers at school for fear of ridicule, who were unaware as to my poetic exploration, an anxiety that has since passed me by.

I stopped writing back in 2015 when I became a Prize Winner in the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Competition with my poem ‘A Composer’s Last Symphony’, as well as in The University of Oxford’s Tower Poetry Competition for my poem ‘Fusion’. This cease in writing was down to a combination of feeling like I didn’t really have anything worth writing about, as well as a strange sense of resolution that can come with achievement, which ironically in this case stopped me in my poetic tracks.

Since that last post, I have sporadically gone through periods of wishing I had continued to write, occasionally producing scribbles, paragraphs and rhymes, which always felt inferior to things my 17-year-old self had managed to produce. Over time, I realised that these scribbles were just as valuable as the writing I had done in the past, and it was only my own mental block preventing me from celebrating and developing them.

Accordingly, I have renamed my blog ‘Max Thomas Scribbles’, to help remind myself of both this desire to write, and that I have an outlet for my writing that is true to who I am in the real world, rather than a fabricated pseudonym. As such, I hope to share whatever scribbles I come up with in the form of poems, passions, paragraphs, snapshots, songs and short stories. If you’d like to, please stick around for the journey!

Max Thomas – 22


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A Chinese Dictatorship

Circling the ringmaster,
The lions leap through rings.
Bullets bought and news is warped,
They dance on puppet strings.

The cogs are oiled, the wheel turns,
The greasy hand glides on.
It pulls the hairs from grown men’s chests,
Until their manes are shorn.

De-maned and maimed the lions squirm,
Their roars are whispered now.
Prison cages rise from the ground,
and cats forget how to prowl.

Meanwhile the ringmaster glows and gleams and gloats,
In a grotesque, stylish lion coat.
The claws must rise and scrape the wheel,
Tiananmen Aslan shatters steel.

– Max Thomas

FYI – In Chinese culture, lions are a symbol of power.


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