toothpaste goes dry

those eyes

full of wide open innocence

horror

but daddy

how can anybody be

so nasty, so vile?

& I look into her

smile

well you know

when you leave top off the toothpaste

& I shout: who done it?

& you shout back not i?

adults do that all the time honey

we deny our actions

have any consequences

do what we do

because we want to

& what goes wrong

goes bad because of bad luck

nothin’ to do with me

& we’ll deny all for a while

oh no not me

I’m the injured party here

& I wonder how much goes in

what she will make of this

I guess

the next time

the toothpaste goes dry

or worse

one of us now

needs

must take

responsibility

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cold dirty town

fifteen & a few months more

taking a job delivering groceries

after school on a bicycle

for an upmarket store

the smell of cooking hams

roasting of coffee beans

aroma of the grind

all new & intoxicating

never eaten a fat pink fresh pressed ham

drunk a filtered coffee, proper coffee

& there too

a Mary all eighteen

who smiled at me

this lonely young boy

& did the same over & over

& then

a whisper

meet me after work in the park

as I waited nervous & wondering

what I could be to her

we walked in the park

down to the dark trees & kissed

she took my hand

placed it on her chest

her heart beating

& then

let’s go lie on the grass

quiet in my ear

& then

I remembered

the headmasters talk

cool disdain

lecture on sex

how a man & wife-of course

achieved the perfect union

something about the ease

between thighs

resting on elbows

but this was entirely different to that

a glimpse of plump white thighs

a splash of dark hair & pink

as she pulled me into her

& instinct took over

afterwards

we sat in the long damp grass

I recall very little conversation

as she pulled her grey knickers back on

me sitting

trembling at the enormity

of what I’d done

not we

there was no reaction

but a half smile from her

then back home

on my bicycle for dinner

& then

that was how I spent my time with her

couple of times a week

after school

for the next three months

she was another kid

growing up in a care home

doing sex for intimacy

is what we had

no passion

fantasies of love

just a walk in the park

fuck under the trees

& a lonely boy going home

& then

she left her job

in the grocery store

to move to the city

with a much older man

I guess I wasn’t the only none

she shared her favours with

& then

I quit the job too

went back to being the lonely masturbator

thinking of pale white thighs

salty tang of fresh pressed hams

& sometimes

when I sip a filtered coffee

strong & hot

I toast to Mary

who took my teenage boyhood away

for after that

how could I go back

chasing prim girls

who had no clue

kicking a football in the park

hunting chestnuts

in the shadows

under the trees?

lady wants to know

why do men do this thing?

silly jokes, poor puns

my husband does this too

& I try to tell her the why

but I can see she don’t believe

so I’ll try with you

this is the way

we test the deep waters

of our relationships with you

discover who & how we are

the standing in our group

we throw this stuff out there

ease the working day

testing the response

no no no she insists

men are unemotional creatures

really, such a sexist view?

flogging the dead horse I continue

I can hear in a response

who is angry with someone

needs time to talk it through

the tired ones running on fumes

& the one feeling deepest blue

well, that’s you she says

holding on tight to what she thinks

well, I say, I knew straightaway

this was your unhappy day

when I cracked that funny

not so much as a smile

& that’s ok, really not a fuss

I know now to give you space

for a little while

Hurts

she was gone

& it was all I could do

to just hold on

didn’t want to eat

did want the booze

staring at the wall

music on loud

just to drown out the loss

those inner sinner thoughts

if

what could i

can I get her back

& it hurt

I had hurts the whole day

nights

not sleeping

thinking mad things

like you do

as the obsession fades slowly

you begin to recognise

this is what it is

the appetite comes back

music down a notch

maybe two

bottle lasts longer than a day

maybe two

& it hurts

like hell

like razorblades in your head

& then it doesn’t

which isn’t to say

you are over her

just over

yourself

in you

she sought solace

when I wasn’t around

& I forgive you

for succumbing

when you were alone

as she told you

that was how she felt too

& why not?

death comes all too soon

for those who sit & wait

being too short

to give up on new good times

the harder part

is that you forgot too easy

took what was in front of you

uncaring

about her

me

& yourself

in the world

in the what lay after

the easy lay

so thank you

for letting me know

she was worthless

not worthy of me

as are

you

that isn’t about that

it wasn’t

the cigarette burns

on the lid of the plastic toilet cistern

or that she would cut pizza

using scissors

I’m made of stronger stuff than that

or that her sheets

never got changed

sliding on the marks made

by other lovers

though I did feel a twinge

about all of that

or the carpet never got hoovered

drapes didn’t hang right

roughly pulled every night

hanging loose off the rails

here & there

that the kitchen

had a sink full of crocks

& she’d hang a wry smile

if you feel something

you can be the one

doing something about that

bottles in cupboards

there under the stairs

in bags with half eaten food

from outdoor events

all with about a third

left floating for the rats

they caused more than a twinge

made me want to reach

find my hat

but no

I left you lover

not for the sloppiness

evident there in your life

the living of it

but for your carelessness

of me

which becomes betrayal

when you forget to pay attention

to the me

that isn’t about that

dog pile

early twenties

riding motorcycles

in love with the world

me, everybody I met

& that whole thing

which gravitates

to motorcycle clubs

if you are doing it right

out on the town

drinking, smoking, speeding

& two, three in the morning

there will be a crash pad

somewhere to go

ease off the evening

coming down slow

with more smokes

beers & other things

women & fun

until everything winds down

round four or five

& where to sleep

is never the issue

the dog pile

everybody sleeping

touching each other

hand to foot

head to toe

on arms, legs

bodies gently intertwined

that way all are safe

pull one out

pull all

easy indoors

but good practice

for the great outdoors

keeping each one safe

dog piling

comfort & safety

trust in all

in later times

this also became about

knowing where everybody was

so the police could not

pick us off

one by one