Photo: Phil Sharp

Company (2010)

When I got ripped out, forceps, C sec; on my own.

When him then Micky left, I was left; on my own.

When I found love, lost love, first time; on my own.

When I’d tried everything by fourteen; on my own.

When I went from a boy to a lout to a man; on my own.

When I got expelled, kicked out, moved in; on my own.

When I lost the plot that time, permanent marker smile; on my own.

When you all ducked out, I was still swinging; on my own.

When I went down, rode bird, came back galvanised; on my own.

When I found that thing in Bimbo’s thing, I was all broken; on my own.

When I wanted more, bigger better things; on my own.

When I done the Access, big step back then forwards; on my own.

When her scheme flopped, not sectioned, fuck you; on my own.

When I started Kingston, class full of people; on my own.

When I cleaned the blood off, moved out quickly, lucky boy; on my own.

When I wake up, turn kiss Spinny; on my own.

When I went Gran’s funeral, own pew, own thoughts; on my own.

When I pray, say sorry, think back what I’ve done – belly ache; on my own.

When I’m winning in the ring, undefeated, knocked him out first round; on my own.

When the black dog bites, 3 month cycle, ready for you; on my own.

When I stop drinking, I’ll stop drinking; on my own.

When I pass, done well, graduation; on my own.

When I make it, if I ever make it, really wanna make it; on my own.

When he dies, big drink, no remorse, steady lip; on my own.

When I see the bright light, dark tunnel, march on, not scared; on my own.

Publishing Information


Published In:Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam (2012)

By: Cinnamon Press (UK)

ISBN: 978-1-907090-62-2

`Like a young Irvine Welsh, only from London!’ 

Sam Delaney, The GuardianTalk Sport, Sky News (2011)

‘…charm and unpredictability are shared by Todd Von Joel’s poem ‘Company’, a single-minded piece that digs deep into the poet’s lived experience. There is an obsessive, level-headed mania in this poem which – as in the poems by Jane Yeh and Ryan Van Winkle – gives the sense of a mind caught in the act of thinking. These are poets with guts, who – along with Jon Stone, Isabel Galleymore and Agnieszka Studzinska – impress with their confident, unaffected eccentricity.’

Amy McCauley, The New Welsh Review (2012)

‘…It has a bleakness and sense of raw desperation – very compelling. A 21st century alienated young man. Fine tuning in the age of social media and when we are all supposed to have millions of friends. Yet here is one who’s happy to admit he’s on his own. Pass on my praise. We need poets…..only they can tell us the truth about ourselves in the lightest and darkest ways…’

Paul Ham, author and founder of Hampress (2012)

A note from the publisher…

‘This young man seems destined for some kind of greatness.  Both rough and elegant, streetwise and sensitive, smart and tough, kind and strong, his charisma and decency shone through in the classes I taught him in. Strikingly handsome, tall and articulate, his performances were moving for their honesty, dazzling for their humour.  I am not sure the world of poetry is ready to receive such gifts warmly, but it may be that Von Joel builds his own future roles by redefining where he, and poetry, needs to go.  I see him as a star entertainer, an inspirational figure.  If he stays true to his dreams of rejuvenation and ambitious clarity, he will make a difference in his 30s.  He’s one to watch.  These three poems showcase the poet’s hip-hop sensibility, confessional honesty, sense of humour, and energy.’

Dr. Todd Swift, poet and founder of Eyewear Publishing (2012)