stories the ears to please

if I lost you

somewhere along the way

travelling fast & light

spare change gets caught in the seat covers

don’t mean I don’t miss it

at the next stop light

but you had a part to play didn’t you?

could have caught me up anytime

putting your foot down hard

sending me a post card you might

& if I lost you

somewhere in those middle years

maybe I thought you were busy

doing what you were doing

off into your own dark night

living your living easing your fears

while I wandered away to mine

ours are not the only lost souls

sending whispers on the breeze

our roads easy took a diversion

& if they meet on that lost horizon

there will be stories the ears to please

kid had spots

what’s best to do?

she asked

& I say all serious

y’really want to fix this?

don’t use soap on your face

use cool water

several times a day

let it dry naturally

don’t use a towel

use one side of the pillow once

then turn it over

then wash it

stops the reinfection

keep your hair off your face

give the make-up a rest

oh you’re such a kidder

she says

like you would know


about these things

yeah I said

I never had youth

came straight out the womb

this bitter & twisted old thing

& for a second I swear

there was a narrowing of her eye

as she worked out if this was true

or not

cos I’m such a kidder, y’know?


days spent in a chair

doing nothing

except the thinking thing

going over & over

making no more sense now

than then

feeling the blues grip tight

& there is no money for booze

pockets empty of cigarettes

tobacco pills crumbs

because you’ve checked

more than thrice

& to go out amongst people now

would not be a disaster for them

for they never notice

until you tell them plain

I am starving have not eaten

my world has fallen apart

& then they will stare


how could you let yourself

get like this?

which is a disaster for you

because you have spent the time

in trying to understand what happened

& have come up with

nothing other than

this the role you were destined

to be

all cats have 9 lives

not all people are cats

not all cats are people

but all cats have 9 lives

& some people have one life

but do nothing with that


once I did this

now I do that

I have a second life

& on to other lives

changing to suit the environment

changes after life events

not all people are cats

but all cats have 9 lives

at least

the ghost

it would seem implausible

impossible even

but this happened a couple of times

being fourteen & bored

sneaking out the house

in the dark to hitch rides into the next town

there was a speakeasy bar there

up the stairs where

a man sat at his desk reading a newspaper

I’d casually attach myself to a group

& slide in behind them

as the bookcase wall opened

& be in the bar the noise the music

nobody ever seemed to notice me

nobody ever spoke one word

or seem to see me at all

I’d walk around dance to the music some

wait for the black guy

oiled & naked but for his skinny briefs

who’d come out with a machine gun

gyrate dance to Dennis Capone’s

Al Capones guns don’t argue

& after that excitement

mope around some more

& being forever bored eventually leave

waiting for the bookcase to open

sliding down the stairs back into the ordinary world

where nobody ever noticed me either

better answers

& there were days

where even

my eyebrows held pain

& you think what kind

of rotten world

mixed up god

puts pain there?

have I picked up some foul

sub Iberian tropical disease

from one of these dusty women

I spent a night or two with?

did I drink too much

smoke a few more

than I should

take other things

that may not be good for me?

& I feel sure

you got better answers

than me

for the first q

& for those other ones too

to walk away

seeing what is

& isn’t

despite the words said

assurances uttered

the cracks showing up in the sun

when all you have is a fresh eye

a mind open for appetite

& while the words sound good

promising away into the night

you know deep in your bones

how things start

is how they will end

if this doesn’t feel right

you gotta walk away

‘cos your own peace of mind

is all that matters y’know

& when they ask why you’re quitting

don’t you like the show?

you have to hold yourself tight

just say quietly

no thanks

bottle it up & go

it don’t take long

I remember her best

in a blue cotton dress

standing in the heat

the sun outlining her body

amongst the bright sunflowers

driving between the trees

lining the long road to the sea

all before she was bored

tired of the driving time

listening to my tired old tunes

that I’d crafted in anticipation

of sunnier times to come

more than ennui

her first ever trip to France

I felt she was weary of me

what I wasn’t to know

until a little later

it wasn’t these times she needed

her best dates held a label

a fast chair back of the bar

wisecracking on everybody

tearing down what others had begun

& I was just another poor sap

thinking her beauty needed sun

we were to be grown-ups now

& boom it was over

she came through the door

kissed me full

& I squeezed her tight

wait, wait, she said

& told me some story

of some Mary at work

how she felt all about all of that

as I stood mute


what had happened here?

we used to be all grab ass

kissing leading on

most times we’d be in bed

there on the kitchen floor

before much of anything

& now we were domestic cats

catching up on work issues

who had bought what groceries

next it’d be coupons

& which is the best store

& worse she didn’t notice

as I tried to find the words

just how to articulate these changes


our dream was over

we were to be grown-ups

from now

I did everything

they asked of me

& still it wasn’t enough

so I swung out on my own

trying to find a way to better

& of course that wasn’t right

but you know if all you give

a man is nothing

that all stacks up real quick

finding my own way was a struggle

& many ways in that cold beginning

I didn’t get much of anything right

but all I had to answer to was me

over time if slow I got smarter

I could sleep a lonely long night

then finding people who recognize

that trying to do something

because you believe in what you do

can create your own family of care

builds your only circle tight

& still my founders look on

mumbling slow

shaking their heads

that boy ain’t right…