working away

stuck in strange cities

to sit in bars knowing nobody

eating alone in restaurants

or more tv in dead hotel rooms

I’d go walking

not hoping to find

but to see what was there

how the place got built

there is always a river

at the bottom of town

the older architecture

& as I’d rise up taking corkscrew turns

round & around the city streets

the place would slowly unfold

here the place of artisans

working districts one time slums

being gentrified coming up plums

there the old shopping centers

butchers grocers hardware stores

the old mom & pops drop in shops

selling booze detergents high price cans

holding out against the high end places

in the shiny new cut price palaces uptown

until finally feet aching

I’d head back to the hotel go to sleep

& the next day they’d say:

you went where?

don’t you know that’s a dodgy part of town?

& you smile quietly to yourself

thank you for that

but you weren’t around

people who think they are clever but are really only being sly

we’ll call him Dave

& her Sue

because those are their names

Sue was my whore not that she did that for cash

just the booze, the thrills, the action

she was married lived part time with her husband & kids

& spent most nights party time part time with me

she loved my easy ways

the letting the whatever future may come life

that & my unfussy ways of drinking

there was always more booze more to be had

Dave was a guy I worked with who hated me

though he wasn’t smart enough to know I knew

he’d learned young to fake sincerity

& thought that gave him the edge on everybody else

Dave & Sue met at one of my parties

recognized each other for what they were

deciding to keep me in the dark was the best thing to do

Dave would call on a Wednesday night suggesting

we go for a drink

& I’d be: can’t man, I got a night shift to do

which he knew

maybe the weekend eh?

which he could never make

not understanding I have a third ear open

listening to the fake

& sure enough

the next morning grey eyed blurred with fatigue

I’d see her car by the kerb outside his place

& I’d breathe a sigh of relief

hoping that what they had would take

she would transfer whatever emotions she had for me

onto her new victim

they thought they were oh so clever

but really

were only good

at being sly


sitting idle in the sun

thoughts of my mother began to intrude

30 years since we last met or spoke

& I wondered how she was

I put her name in the search engine

& found she’d been dead

for five of those years

the cigarettes had finally killed her


& the second hand smoke

from running a bar for half a century

the Will came up

nothing for me or my sister

no leavings

requests or

goodbye messages

to answer any unanswered questions

just finally

an end

to all of that


the next town

& if not

the town after that

I walked the high mountains

midnight until dawn

the moon a poor guiding light

feeling only the fence

to keep me on that path

coming into town early

finding coffee

always hoping for more

a friendly face open door

start looking

anything to make enough money

for dinner mebbe walking around cash

wash dishes sweep a floor

& if nothing held me there

walk on into the night again

mebbe the next town

& if not the town

after that

she got me

she got me she said

understood my wandering soul

or was it affections

gave plenty of pens

good solid paper

left me to draw my own


& I wanted her there

beside me as my friend

though she wanted more

that bit she didn’t get

though she said she understood

how hard it was to get out of bed

only to do more of the same

each & every day

nobody there

to provide solace in my evenings

she was prepared to do that

if I was interested in offering the other

& how to create a desire

where none exists?

& worse sustain that over time

of course she hates me now

says all I did was take take take

in the name of artistic freedom

maybe 12 or 13

& for the first time

my body would not do

what I wanted

I had to try harder harder

the days of ease had gone

& now later

I remember those moments

with laughter

as my body now

will not do things I want it to either

& no extra exertion exercise

will make it so

the aches of age

once broken bones

hinting at arthritis to come

when winter twinges them

that strange sexuality

buzzing 24 hours more

a day

wanting wanting if never

quite sure what was needed

that too has eased to dull throb

no longer causing distress

to those around me

I was in such a rush

to get to maturity

& here it is the prize

growing years

there were the years

I felt I was something special

no scars burns limbs missing

nothing could hold me down

though believe they tried

to shovel shit my way

I’d pick myself

dust down the pain

& start over again

poisonous unfulfilled women

cheaters & beaters

the ones who needed the booze

tried to convince it was me

I’d think I’d be the one

straighten them out

& each time

I’d be there on the ground

kicked by bad love

sex in disguise of affection

until the time

the bounce goes from the up

taking that look around

I can’t fix this

if I can’t fix me

& the key to my prison

someone is special

but today

it ain’t me

window shopping

I hold no folding

no currency now

just window shopping

glancing discretely

at all I cannot afford

looking out at the beauties

no matter

how well presented the package

the time effort care taken

to present to the world

I hold no folding

no cash to offer

in this exchange

but I can still look

wondering about provenance

though thankfully

nothing comes back

to me

& I like it that way

the easier down

when you’ve said something

not quite right

heat of the moment thing

& an apology

would be the easier down

but no

either through pig headed stupidity

or its time for needing to test

the hold between you

& this becomes a battle

until you know

the strength of bond

because if we were good

we could get past this easy

& if we aren’t

then the truth apparent

we are fair weather friends

only on polite pleasant terms

& all over something said silly

in the heat of a dead moment

our paths may diverge

or continue the same

though now we know

who each the other is

for us

what tears may come

when the talk

is already a century old?

the protagonists are dead

leaving nothing but us

to puzzle over their whys

& long gone reason wherefores

we cannot grieve

for who they were

this they did share

they are now ciphers on the breeze

in yesterday closed rooms

gone if not forgotten

& what tears may come

if we were to be bereaved

for us

instead of them