“Birthday, No Birth Day,” “Games Few Win” and “Paddington Bear”

“Birthday, No Birth Day,” “Games Few Win” and “Paddington Bear”


birthday of a young man

showing him sights

events cold and crude

feelings heated and complex


a youngster

a doctor showing arrogance

refusing to do more

spectators gasping

for breath

a private doctor

in a government place

so nothing can be done

bumpy mountain drive

surrounded by children

she couldn’t add to

eyes elsewhere

our drive to machakos

the safest

it wasn’t

yet instinct drives you

where help seems absent

someone heard

no birthday today

the journey was frantic

i knew, but couldn’t ask

i knew

before i could see

the parents’ faces

helpless attempt

the hospital changed shape

mother and baby

metal seats and bare walls

that couldn’t accept

the mortuary

needing police permission

it was hard to feel

mustafa’s loss

don’t worry simon

my african mum said

when you’re dead you’re dead

my manx niece said

the birthday returned

as it is

No Birth Day

mustafa off for a day

he would never forget

death of a young woman

feelings cold and crude



no concern

leaving her in a heap

crumpled girl gasping

for life

can’t see her

transfer to a private place

(in private)

dumbstruck parents

their daughter felt

her temperature cold

her limbs limp

the fastest journey

i’d ever done


to try or help

when hope seems hopeless

the baby is dead

mustafa later said

but then still, it was still

i knew, but couldn’t be told

and didn’t want to know

i could see

the unpalatable answer

to prevent a needless death

entrance and exit switched


to a cattle auction

the dead

to a slaughter house

to ruin a family’s dignity

mustafa’s pain

couldn’t speak

death is normal

five minutes later

what’s the problem?

five years later

no birth day remained

as it is

Games Few Win

one last time

a promise hard to keep

one last time

get drugged with ghb

one last time

sex was drugged rape

one more time

police disconnecting dots

one more time

to spot rapist killer

one more time

not even he could stay safe

one last time

instead of party ‘n’ play

one last time

the rest dissolved in acid

one last time

victims of unholy three

one last time

easier said than it’s done

one last time

fun might last long enough

one last time

observing ritual replayed

the last time

bent needle of no return

snorting, smoking, slamming

before we end up dying

meet up at a stranger’s

blind to its fatal dangers

their final port of call

four left dead against a wall

four men die from same slugs

it’s only the gays on drugs

police in duty failing

is it just wrong in barking?

policeman off-duty in borough

in such a monstrous horror

drug psychosis had him beaten

he was then killed ‘n’ eaten

body parts in a wheelie bin

chemsex games few win

hundreds & thousands of gay men

lives ruined again & again

snorting, smoking, slamming

before it’s done and we’re dying

try a last big hooray

to uncover cold feet of clay

I planned it all low key

see this game is not really me

drug tunnel of the dead

then turning, seeing light ahead

Paddington Bear

Arrival label:

Best-laid plans

Mr. Jain my host


chillies old men

Left with Jain's letter:

Lonesome rooftop

Indian dreams

Early train drill

fresh bananas

Symbol alone

in marbled white

Amber Fort awe

Pink City heart

Late train clamour

fragile clay cups

Single rooftop

no shelter from

Shy of the truth

if not in dread

Armed with Jain's letters:

By bus, by train

Brave New World

Wander down trails

vast fields of veils

In darkness left

fireflies light

Rooftops glisten

washing away

Saved by Jain's letters:

Unearthly hours

orphans mirrors

Deny my soul

my torment be

Same old rooftop

Same old story

I've got Jain's new map:

Flying mountains

boathouses floated

Punjabi threats

Delhi belly

I reach back home:

Years have passed by

my love prevails

Paddington Bear

sweet heart bitter

'Please look after me'

had gone astray

was called away.

paper bag lunch

breaking white bread.

'Just go and explore'

my place to sleep

would make me weep.

just one rupee

hot sweet wet tea.

Taj Mahal grave

glowing with love

marbled anguish

sandstone facade.

British as tea

tracks of debris.

Mr. Jain and I

the truth I'm shy

I might explore

my heart may pour.

'Please look after him'

by rickshaw too

just nobody knew.

often past tread

stone-blind ahead.

cold stench of fear

black spirit near.

with sweat dripping

rats toe-tripping.

'Please look after him'

mountain ashram

Tomfool I am.

a just release

freedom not peace.

Mr. Jain and I.

if not I lie.

'Feel free to explore'

deep gorges skipped

past fears unzipped.

Kashmiri gunfire

taboo desire.

'Please look after me'

joy and sadness

skirting madness.

looking to care

marmalade hat.

About the Author

Simon Maddrell

Simon Maddrell was born in Douglas, Isle of Man in 1965 and brought up in Bolton, Lancashire. He has lived In London since 1999. In 2002, after a 12-year business career, including ten years at Xerox, Simon founded and ran a multi award-winning charity, Excellent Development. In 2016, he resigned as Executive Director to enable him to focus on writing and performing. Driven by his Queer Manx identity, Simon has sought to speak truth in the finest words he can find since 2012. Simon’s main theme is living as a queer man addressing issues from a personal, social and/or political perspective including mental health & suicide, shame & oppression, bullying & prejudice and drugs. He also writes about death & loss; nature & wildlife, Africa & India.