I have these places

off’f the unbeaten track
shaded seats
to ponder
try & find
everything lost
it is
in quiet
that come
moments of clarity
capturing feelings
flitted away
& lost
I’ve learned
to my cost
if I don’t write
these down
become wraiths
in the undergrowth
as I wend my way
to where
I lost them

buddha says

Do not push the river
Buddha says
there is no
of him
reluctant kids
ready for school
a pretty woman out
for the evening
a good man
away from his friends
do not push the river
the Buddha says
& I wonder
If he’s talking
out of his asana

tall poppies

there are days
like these
what would you say
If I told you
today on the bus
the train
I saw you
in the queue
waiting with such
I don’t often see
it was all right
because there are days
I miss you
in every breath
all thoughts on you
each second a picture
without your face
if we could
ever meet
in a field of green
without tall poppies
you might
look at me again
and I might
breathe free


I’d been visiting a friend
who had food, beer, drugs
‘cos I had none of those
was waiting on a lift
your transport
was all I had at that time
there was something wrong
about me that day
I stood, walked a bit
but caught nothing
a bad day
to be hitching a ride
after 12 hours
beyond tired, hungry, cold
over the way a gas station
and I sidled over for warm
this young black kid
looked at me
knowing I’d been there a while
‘you ok?’
and I began to bargain
no choices
for the cowboy boots
on my feet
got a plastic of water
and a bag of sweets
like he was doing me
the biggest favour
I made it back over
to my side of the road
and a half hour later
got a ride back to my

Let the mystery be

An entire buttersweet
from each generation
set aside
dotty English ladies
maiden aunts
barking at sickle moons
railing at injustices
only they can fathom
possibly name
I’ve liked some of them
as a species
have loved fewer
in ways too twisted
to reveal
or mention
anywhere else than
their sacred
pillow’d beds
in halls of mourning
hallowed palaces
bursting with ghosts
spirally creating
more urge
by the aching
passing before them
I found them
in darkened places
slow tears rolling
dripping to space
coutoure’d cloth
in stunning inarticulacy
later screams
cleaving doors
our proposed orderly
where they landed
beyond my ken
for I shared them
such short time
I pushed them
along lofty panic’d ledges
created joy’d escapes
only they
as then
as ever
will know

spilled minutes

All around me
they spill their minutes
casually discounting
precious hours
flowing into lines
to pay for this
stuff they really
really don’t need
walking with eyes
cast low
missing history
their world
to be held beautiful
phones held to heads
who needs guns
in cars
phones do the job
& on trains
just who do
they talk to?
its all shit talk
if you listen
what’s for dinner
what shall we do later
see you in 20
yeah loves ya babe
closes eyes
to surroundings
ears to situation
the seconds
rushing by
the dead tell me
life is wasted
on the living
& that sounds
too much
like regret

Everybody got a Jane…

So here’s mine…Tall, thin, blonde and beautiful. Fucked up in that special way only beautiful women are when they come from a spoiling love which they felt as poverty. Fucked up by regard given for good looks rather than personality. Fucked up by attention given for all the wrong reasons, or so they will tell you. Fucked up by the prizes that follow from all of these and hollowness that needs to be filled by something, anything, and anyone, any obsession for now.
Everybody got a Jane. It’s a rite of passage to be gone through, some make it out sane, some not. Some die late embittered, burnt fingers chafing into the long nights that follow.
When we first met I never noticed her, not in any ignorant way, but more of a “there’s this great looking woman over there, I’m here, she’s with someone else that’s it.”
Then we spoiled it. But wait.
We worked together and I never realised that she was falling in love with me. Or so she told later. One day cycling, my pride and joy new mountain bike, bicycle shorts all Lycra and Chamois. She smiled lips open and wide, wanting to be going with me. Then later, she came around with a card and a present for my birthday, spreading her blue cotton dress across the floor, wishing me well and, and, well, she cried, over what I didn’t know, but wanting her to stop crying and to, to do other things that before had never entered my mind about her. Thinking just what was this about? This present then tears thing?
But this is too quick. Months passed between my first meeting, working with her and this. But then that’s how we were, we moved pretty quick.
We went out for beer, just a drink to show her around. Her man, never mentioned, never asked after. She drank easy, pouring and ordering relaxed and slow with smiles for barmen and barmaids, glasses ready to be filled, just for that smile from her again.
We talked of life, music-my passion, drama-hers, and anything else that helped touch the sides. I think retrospect is paranoid, or maybe just liberated from those times, who can tell? I was only too happy to be with this beautiful creature that laughed at everything I said and smiled at life. Later I took her back to my rooms, she sipping Vodka bought on the way.
On the edge of my unmade bed, she cold and wet from the rain. Taking her clothes off to keep warm in my old sweatshirt and teethchattering, what else could I do but want to warm her? Her tales of unlove in a coldened marriage, what else but to hold and want her better?
Then the touching, holding, fingers here and there, kisses and calls in the air between us. Fumbles and fingers caressing, losing mind, gaining feelings, rushes and blushes. Feeling her warmth and wet, entering, gaining momentum only to be thrown out by her body, pushed out and wanting in, hushed voice telling of wrongness but wanting, whispers of please, but please don’t, then hands finding and encouraging. Making this happen was not to be easy anymore. Falling asleep to wake cold and alone, a note of having to raise children from beds, attend to toast and schools.
Thinking of what had happened and whys of the evening before.
To meet again later at work, nothing said or hinted, smiles exchanged, over break, we must talk, meet later. Timings arranged, other events changed to make space.
Her arriving later with Vodka and smiles, a newer white crisp cotton dress, outlines suggesting stockings and sex to come. Me listening of love but no promises of futures as the vodka passed between us. Listening to words but wanting else. Listening, watching lips, blue eyes in concentration while time passed, then hands reaching, pulling toward, breasts offered and taken.
Some habits take aeons to accrue, others happen despite awareness. We settled soon into patterns of she arriving after kid bedtimes, vodka in hand and tales of woe, needing to stare into space while chewing on inner cheek. I would read, watch t.v. Until that too would distract. Her need for me was to be her space, still, existing in non-existence until her meditation on inner demons was done. I was Sir Galahad, all knights rolled into one, and I could do this until her dragons were set in stone.
Then we would make love, slow, gentle easing into the night. Inventive, touchy feely stuff you read about in books, where each time passion increases as tempo slows. Me incredulous that she could be so turned on by me, her wetness flowing to soak sheets and me. Sweet and wet as overripe peaches warmed by summer sun. Many times I awoke, hands clutching into blanket, holding on to not knowing what. Darkness everywhere and hearing her breathing, deep and low, body angled into dreams. Knowing later but never wanting to ever know, that love created in this way: spoiled, rotten and wrong, creates the best sex, intense, passionate and of course, doomed to build death, hate and poison that takes years to wash away.
The vodka would give permission to speak; she talked of frustrations and lovers who missed her by their needs. I heard the warnings but wanted anyway. She talked of foods and not needing to eat, the need to be slim, retain her shape: after two kids it was pretty good eh? All was information to me, where this, we were going never entered my head. We had our space in my rooms, tight under the eaves, safe from the world, who could need more?
I took her to Spain, travelling across France, staying in cheap dingy rooms that she couldn’t afford but complained bitterly of. To Pamplona, me for the first time noticing how the vodka level slipped down the bottle, how food necessary for me was wasted for her. Her drunk in the afternoon, sliding through streets, hanging off my arm, pulling me down, asleep on a bench in the park, snoring, bag rattled across the ground strewn cosmetics, passport and toothbrush. The last not making sense until much later.
Yet. Siesta’s, cooler evenings stretched on cotton sheets in hotels, she sucking me until I would beg for release, as good as love ever gets. To lie together as ceiling fans spin flies into oblivion.
Baguette’s better thrown in temper rather than eaten. Anger at my raising at her lack of food. Distractions of rough foreplay, her need to be spanked, I dumb as only young in love men can be. Loving in place of fighting or was it the other way round?
My inarticulacy stares at me across the page, I loved with all that I had and yet did not have enough. I could not make her happy but thought like some school report come to haunt I could try harder. Chasing my tail and hers across a continent, complete in misery, as she wanted more, more that she was not able to verbalise otherwise the need transmuted and lost. A guessing game with only losers as the prize. Watching her flirt with strangers and then being needed to pick up the pieces when such went astray. Hearing her moans of bottom pinchers but catching her glances to entice.
My jealousy spurred her further, yet I did not know how to let go. Despising myself for knowing my weaknesses and still being around or wanting more, masochism or abuse? How close together these were. I would break free for a few days until she would return bearing gifts to beat on my door, seeking forgiveness or needing solace supposedly only I could offer. I could not refuse her though I tried other lovers; they and their own peculiarities would seem pale. We would make love instantly to stave recriminations, questions, though these would arrive dressed in rags in later conversation.
As our time moved on she felt need to be in company though quickly despised all friends and acquaintances, rubbished overtures from all. Her drinking now not easy but forced and gulped, time running out. Nagging that I could not fulfil her. Snarls at words not wanted or wanted heard. Here visits grew infrequent and missing her became painful but welcome, then she would return, all smiles, love and gifts of welcome. I wondered the guilt of her gifts, friends told of sightings drunk at parties, I nodded my hearing pondering of their inability to see my pain. Then a party together, late, missing her presence, finding her in the arms of a stranger, his hands on her white knickers, her kissing him not seeing me, the light shaded but strong enough to burn holes that last forever.
I left, she coming after me, apologies, blaming drink, the moment, and a forceful other. Me cold and angry, into the pit all cuckolds hide to escape the gaze of others knowing glances. We fought for the first time. Wanting to hit her, using words as fists, her scraping, scratching, and despising my weakness for her deeply as I did. The morning bleak, eyes weary with sight, running away determined to never answer her calls.
Of course she came back, vodka in hand, now wanting to smoke dope to ease the drinking. Wanting to try eating, wanting meals bought only in good restaurants. My now seeing her rise immediately after eating to take her bag, go the toilet and return with freshly brushed teeth. Resentment rising in me as I paid good food bills for her to vomit them away. My weariness at the binges that sapped me but somehow strengthened her. Feeling the failure that comes from wanting the best for another, wanting to help but slipping surely into control, into helping when leaving would be better.
One summer week, she nightly picking me up from work, buying vodka for us and pizza for me. Drinking, me watching videos while she reflected, sparking cigarettes off the stove, taking me to work, to follow the ritual again. Then, finding myself walking the road for extra vodka, catching myself and recognising that this was out of control: 7 bottles in 6 days. Too drunk to run away or change the day but still knowing that this could not continue.
More fights, arguments, other lovers, a litany of shame that in it’s making saps and contorts to destroy better being. My understanding over and over the pull of moth from bright candle flame, the suck of fingers into fire. I was in deteriorating orbit, pulled closer by another’s’ gravity, shamed by debauch yet recognising that this was the only game in town. I continued to leave. To leave. To return. The gaps of days became weeks; slowly immeasurably her influence waned. Then. A call, again late night needing me immediately, getting out of bed, dressed to attend, she ‘phoned again, apologies, emergency over. Feeling stupid at being caught by her until she asked to see me in the morning ‘sober’ to ‘talk.’
I arrived, no answer to my knock on the door, checking my time, trying the back door finding it open, calling for answer. I climbed the stairs fearful of what I might find.
She asleep. Alone. Relieved but concerned over what emergency had taken place here. She stirring eyes baggy in the sunlight, breasts droopy in dressing gown, looking for cigarettes. Asking what I was doing there no memory of ‘phone calls…
I made her coffee as she bathed, not wanting to notice the beer cans, different brand cigarette packs or the empty condom pack. Wanting to leave, this was no longer for my concern, I was trying to leave her, not be caught again. Drinking coffee, Jane now dressed and made up for the day, me wanting to be anywhere but here, with foresight I’d made plans to meet a friend later. She wanting to go out, talk, be friends, my senses taut as in the presence of any predator. I left after agreeing to meet that night, though I felt the yellow streak on my back pressing deeper in to flesh and psyche. We met for drinks of course; she was burning slow, angry, biting into me, until finally I said I would leave. Outside the night dark and cloudy as she began telling me of my uselessness, my inadequacies, how she’d heard I was seeing another and then she attacked, nails in my face, hands pulling my hair, me twisting as she grabbed for my balls, falling to the floor, hearing others laugh at the spectacle as she tried to kick. I waited. Knowing that this would end. Cold, lying on the ground feeling the pain but feeling release in an inner complete and contented way. I knew now that I would never return, could never return, I had finally been ravaged and needed no more. She laughed as I struggled to my feet and said my goodbyes, believing that I would return. I always had before… That would be a nice end, eh? And it did feel like one, though life being savage as it is and we would/will but deny it: a month later, a dark late night of rain and swift winds, I lay in bed watching t.v. and heard a knock at the door. It was Jane. Drunk and inflamed, all made up with perhaps nowhere to go, holding onto the door and wanting to talk, I allowed her in. she needed coffee she said and making it heard the storm approaching, she questioned of newer loves and places I’d been, of missing her and stories she’d heard from others of her kicking me to the floor. She threw her coffee at me, kicked, missed, and kicked again. Asking her to leave passioned her further, she ran to my room throwing records, music, hi fi to the floor. Then she fell onto the bed, begging to stay, asking for love, forgiveness. Then she fell asleep. I picked up my papers, music and began tidying as she slightly snored. I wanted her gone, picking her up roused her, I threatened a bath to sober her, she screamed at me to let her go, she began kicking blindly at me again and I pinioned her. I would not have taken these things from a man; she knew these things yet still demanded special privilege. I carried her to the door, she screaming, biting, gouging at my balls. Finally I pushed her through the door, she screamed that I would pay for this and was gone.
The Police arrived hours later, just when I thought it all over, accusing me of battery, assault and actual bodily harm. I went with them, but making sure that others who had been in the house made their statements too. Jane hawked photographs of bruises telling tales of violence to all who might listen. My embarrassment somewhere turned to shame at being involved in this, denial was pointless as was the showing of my bruises, cuts and hurt, Jane’s win in the short term by their lack of shame and who cares for the long term these days? Nobody of that time matters to me now except in the few times of self-reflection such as these. The Police saw the situation as it was, suggested that I never let her in again, to ignore her, no matter what. All good advice only perhaps now for the first time I heard the truth in it, but isn’t that how advice is? Only useful at the right time or when we’re ready to hear it…
She called many times, always late, drunk of course, mumbling incoherently, as I continued to ignore her pleas she continued rubbishing me with others. Once I saw her walking toward me, I ducked away not needing any further reminders. I believe at the time I loved her, though I know I will not ever love again in such a way. I learned and that’s all any of us can ever hope to gain from any relationship. Learning the features of such relationships, obsessive, co-dependent, fucked up, call it what you will: the sex being the best ever, the over concern for another, the wanting to make them happy, the continuing despite shame, loss of friends, self respect and on…
Everybody got a Jane: I’m over her now. Aren’t I?

Don’t tell me

about your lines
show me
make me want
to read
the next one
& the one
after that
if it hurts
to write
put it down
let that shine
forget allusion
forget simile
if it hurts
tell me
how bad
it fucking hurts
I won’t wilt
run away
from your words
on a flat page
I just might
to you
in fellow feeling
let me feel your howl
screams of pain
in your long
dark nights
of nothing
much the same
on your loves
roses being red
have all
been done
but pain
that’s personal
to each
yet universal
that if you
out of
that white page
I will
be unable
stop myself
in offer
of my hands
back to you

Circle jerk

Walking along
the pavement
dirty & worn
& that was just me
I heard the circle
a young voice
on a phone;
‘so, she turned to him
& said over my dead
like, y’know, body
dead, enit
& then he turned to her
I’m not having it
yeah, yer, that’s what
I said
so, she turns to him right
yeah, n like, its y’know
wait, what? Yeah, like
he turned to me n said
you coming or not?
& I’m like, I’m not, yeah but
ok I will
but only, only if, she’s umm
like, y’know ok with it
& then
& then
he turns to me & ses
wait, wait, you know?
why didn’t you say?
cos, like,
I was turning to you
to as y’know, like
a friend, right?
& her voice drifted away
as I continued
walking along
the pavement
dirty & worn
that was just me
y’know, like.


She had a way with words
she knew i
was a great poet-to be
and invited me
to a little soiree
of friends
there was a professor
his snotty wife
possible librarian
their 8 yr old kid
couple of teachers
artists I think
the neighbours
& me
sipping red
wishing for rum
y’know how it is
the talk turned
to sales
the artists were doing
just ok
little gallery show
here n there
as ever
some daubing
bright young things
the neighbours
sipping red
wondering if this was
how hobnobbing
with artistes was
& began too I think
wishing for rum
we made the 8yr old
scratch out a tune
on her violin
for a lifetime
maybe two
& the talk turned
to the words
in rows thing
the prof got into it
banging his drum
about the importance
meaning of
rime riche
rime pauvre
while I scanned
kitchen cabinets for rum
he was disappointed
in me
for my enthusiasm
or lack
in his great
esprit d’artisan
aren’t we all
i thought
as I found a half pint
& gave him a line
or two
of the free verse
knew I’d reached
possibly cracked him
I thought
when he reached
out for the rum
it was about then
the evening got started