rooftops

up at 6.30 to run the seafront

3 miles there & 3 miles back

just me, the street sweeper, the gulls

back to a shower then breakfast

& then hit the books

I’d made the decision to make the change

no drinking no smoking

just the silence of the rooftops

the only view from my monastic cell

working to get back into education

no nights out with the boys

nights in with the girls

no tv just an old radio tuned low

eating right & light

man I had hard-ons

that could cut patterns on glass

& nobody to share them with

just my runs, the rooftops, the books

& all that worked out good

I got my time in education

changed my rooftop views

found people to share with

once more

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bumming beers off’f the piano player

the last time I saw Andy

I wish it was the time we went wandering drunk

searching the downtown bars

looking for his old man he’d not seen since

since exactly when he couldn’t remember

but it was a happy time & he wanted that back

we were looking & listening for the piano man

standing in doorways listening first for a tinkle

some showtune being banged out on an old Joanna

that was his old mans gig made his daily bread

after hours of walking we heard the keys through the door

went in bought a beer at the bar sat up close

trying to catch the old man’s eye as he played on

cigarette curling smoking on the old upright open lid

a row of beers from customers on the shelf behind

after a while he took a break took a piss came back

sat on his stool smiled at Andy ‘good to see you kid’

‘any requests?’ & climbed straight back into his gig

when his next beers came over he sent them to us

so we stayed a while listening to the hep cat play

until later the barman asked loud like who are the kids

bumming beers from the piano player all night long?’

when you hear that kind of tone you know it is time to go

we smiled & waved at the old man tickling the ivories

& he nodded pleased to be alone again with his skills

the last time I saw Andy I wish it was the time

we went wandering drunk searching the downtown bars

not the time he was crying in his drunk hours

talking about it was time to take his leave

I find myself

living in the house before this one

where none of my furniture fits

knowing all the contacts there

useful people one & all

who cannot help me here

I keep on doing this to me

until I come full circle

& they who stay

look up, say

ah, here you are

I did wonder from time to time

what had happened to you

& we can begin again

until the time comes

& I go away

dress sense

how I dress has nothing to do with you

grey socks

black drawers (as all the best outlaws do)

black jeans

t shirt

maybe an overshirt

weather permitting

& none of that is about you

is just me being comfortable

the dress code

for I don’t care for fashion

your mad ideas on taste

it is function over form

if you like

& if you like that’s good too

& if you don’t

I don’t care much about

how you dress either…

stepping out of the door

can go left

could go right

each is much the same

& here comes the postman

he has such a busy day

& any words between us

reflect he is only passing my way

who will I talk to

seems such a heavy load

when what I want is something new

I can sink my teeth into

the way a dog loves his bone

but nobody got nothing

as the dead murmur ‘just live…’

there beneath our heavy feet

oh I’m trying but you know

nobody got nothing to give

just the same worn out words

they were giving out the day before

& lord it’s a heavy load for a man

who seeks something he’s not heard

before

what the poet meant when they wrote

it is raining

I am feeling deadly dull today

it is raining

is about my loss of love

it is raining

merde I’l pleut!

it is raining

I’m thinking of the dead & the spaces between us

it is raining

spring is coming hope is in the air

it is raining

refilling water butts feeding the plants

it is raining

my dead mother who never called

it is raining

time to wear a coat today

it is raining

I need the sun to warm my bones

it is raining

& these windows need cleaning

it is raining

must I go out into the world?

in barrio altairo (Saudade V)

Come my love

bring your dobro

we will sing soft & low

in our sweet casinha

in barrio altairo

for tomorrow the landlord

will come needing his money

& we will have nowhere to go

but tonight the stars

are bright in your eyes

as you sing of the sea

of others in lands so far away

where we too

may have to go

so come my love

bring your old dobro

we will sing soft & low

in our sweet casinha

in barrio altairo