to be forever 14

I talk with them the whole time

so much

they get fed up with the conversations

can we just have a little peace?

& that’s about when I let them go

I am always surprised how little

people want to discuss their lives

think on the moments that make the days

they come with tales of poor lovers

yet fail to articulate their real needs

somewhere inside to be eternally fourteen

full of giggles ahems mebbes erms & ah buts

well y’know I thought we’d just kinda discover

& I know for sure how hard it is talk about

the things we love done to love to do

but these babies with stories of bad love

I find are the last to be lovers of conversations

what their needs are between the sheets

though they know intimately can recite

the foibles of the rich & famous

misdeeds of Hollywood & music stars

but know nothing of their own

sand cold damp

running slow to the beach

board under my arm

sand cold damp on my feet

thinking of what to say

make everything right

your blues to go away

& nothing can change anything

much as anything changes nothing

& I throw myself onto the sea

paddling towards the big wave

if only I could make you a surfer

looking out always for the breaks

knowing your world will hold you

take away your heart aches

but y’gotta trust the sea

as much as y’can

knowing that what it gives

will take from you the other hand

balance is what I’d give you

that & a disregard for the cold water

thrown at you every direction

being part of the fun

Horse III

I loved Horse

he talked quietly

carried no big stick

except the one in his pants

he said

had got him his name

as he laughed loud

he’d been a bouncer

& piano player in a paris brothel

end of the 2nd big war

where he’d killed a man

who beat Horse’s whore

& he’d had to go on the run

never saw her again

but I think I’ve already

told you all of that

& when he talked I’d listen

the man had things to tell

be careful

he warned me late one afternoon

drinking beer as the dust motes danced

watch what you do

for what you do

will come back on you later

I was living with K back then

all beautiful & long black hair

you know she will not stay with you?

& I did even if

at that time

I’d not put it into out loud words

how she’d be gone one day

I sighed said yes

you need a stay around woman

one who will support you

love the things you do

beauty is all well & good

but if they spend their days on beauty

will they be there for you

your kids?

he was right as ever

she was gone soon after this

went after the bigger prizes

a better man with more money

& why not?

on those sweet afternoons

sipping needed after work beers

as the dust danced in the sun

be careful in the things you do he’d said

nobody had quite said that to me before

in a way that i could hear it

& now that Horse has gone

to the great brothel in the sky

tinkling the ivories

reunited with his whore

I splash some beer on the ground

in memory

while the barman twists his face

says don’t do that

& the sun

glances off the glasses he polishes

sure, sure, ok I say smiling

I know for sure

everything comes back to you

if you are not careful

in what you do

wossat?

he says not really listening

or interested

as his life is working out just fine

thank you

forget the why

bottle of carpet cleaner

lurking there by the sink

been there so long

I almost forget the why

it was got

the Chinese rug

hand knotted sculpted

bought for a song

when the shop closed down

has wine stains

beer marks

others lords knows what

from life

parties

others incidents best sold as soirees

& I want to get down there

hands & knees

scrubbing out the stains

my life has brought

but something

holds me always back

when I look in the mirror

see the patina there

is that a plus

or something I lack?

best to stay away from him

I hear hiss murmur

like a stray alley cat

all soft quiet on stranger turf

& I turn to see

who this week we are avoiding

& she is making eyes at me

to somebody I don’t know

worse I can’t quite place her

not prominent on my shit list

as always with these things

faint curses from the sad people

could be a slight snub

missed cue in supermarkets

a shout thrown when driving

when she forgot those corner

yellow little blinkie things…

I’d be happier if

I’d fucked her sister instead of her

ripped some bad drug deal

where I got the cash & the dope

stole her panties from the wash line

found me drunk in her pissed bed

but no

I don’t do these things

probably she don’t like my jaw

the uncut of the long hair

the way I walk & smile at nothing

sit in her chair

breeze through her world

while for her

it is full of woes

& enemies

babies

we love them

even when they scratch us

with their kitten claws

throwing angry words around

like these have bite

can mortally wound

& if I wasn’t to laugh

see the gentle side

I’d be angry upset

to be disrespected so

I must hear them

see feel these

as they are

fledgling huffs & puffs

to throw growing

weight around

& first forays

into the world

where such will not be seen

with as much benevolence

as I have

you write how often?

sometimes the words come easy

some take years

& others like all good urges

need release

finding paper any paper

crayon pencil paint on a wall

to get the word down right

the other times spent sitting

staring out the window

watching the cats

beautiful white paper

parker ink pen uncapped

& nothing

you write how often?

she asks

listening for words of discipline

mind focused just right

magic time of day

genius restless night

& to hear the muse don’t come easy

makes the poets sound special

so she writes that down tight

maybe to put on her wall

what I can’t quite express

sometimes the words flow out

already formed

not in my head

ready for the pen

& all I have to do is find the place

to put paper to pen

mistaken

walking the streets

downtown Oakland

new huaraches

flopping around the toes

thinking of cacti flowering

turquoise in silver inlays

feeling the heat of the sun

through straw hat

wishing for the high desert

sniffing the permanent stink of piss

the hot sidewalk reeking of blood

as the guy stumbles along

falling toward me

in wanting something

worn & twisted by forgotten wars

& always the booze

How

I say

palm raised in peace

& he laughs

in complete delight

smile from ear to ear

I got me an Indian saying how

& I was gone by

another day

another mistaken identity

soup of smells

my gut goes

every now & then

usually when I’ve eaten stuff

that I don’t process well

courgettes

strong onions in excess

unnecessary stress from folk

who know better but don’t

this changes my body

sense of smell

& I swim in a soup of smells

riding through the city

the aftershave of the dude there

on his way to meet his lady

her there over denying the menopause

with fruits & flowers fragrances

last nights impromptu pissoir on the corner

hot dogs

burgers

smoke from cigarettes

stench of green from the car in front

sweet fresh frying doughnuts

sweat from the guys digging holes in the street

that faint gas scent of buried city dirt

more piss from that alleyway

all around a melange of perfumes

deodorants shampoo disinfectants

heat from the pavement iron & blood

& when my gut heals

all this is gone

I am back to normal

?

misunderstanding

everybody knows

what I don’t know

that everything is negotiated

cradle to grave

your first steps in the world

let you know

if you have have not

got it made

& everybody knows this

but I missed the conversation

did not get the whisper

everything is negotiable

all you gotta do

is know this

talk your way out

y’cant argue

or begin to shout

just gently start talking

about the misunderstanding

creating common ground

getting the others onside

how can we work this out?