dignity

got lost on the way

I got told there was dignity in work

they must’ve meant some other stuff

than the things I’ve had to do

to lift a pay packet

be standing at the ATM midnight

watching the town clock click over

so’s I could buy bread milk

eat drink

go off in the morning start over

& they never say

watch out for the assholes

because there will be some

toadies fawners lickspittles to the boss

trying to worm up the ladder

get to be a paper boss

give out bullshit orders grow all upset

puffed up when these are ignored

‘they got in the way of the job’

used to work to piss them off

i recall only too well…

ps.

there were good managers

people who’d been promoted

because they were good at what they did

but I don’t remember any bullshit rules

coming from these

I guess they knew better

Never live below

the guy upstairs

playing his music all evening long

bass cabs thumping

then worse of all

last thing at night

hear the bedsprings squeaking

for a minute or two

hear her walk the floor

heading for the bathroom

as his snoring takes hold

hearing them row

he don’t care for her

she spends too much

neither can let it go

I lasted a week or so

had to move on

knowing they couldn’t

or was it wouldn’t?

somewhere south of Amsterdam

staring up at the bows

wooden ship all quiet black

around midnight wintertime

& there across the water

lights on butty boats people going home

after the bars closed

feeling the cold alone

though my friends were feet away

indoors getting beers pizza

& it was great to be there

no camera could catch the moment

million miles from home

holding the strangeness

taking in the winter scene

under the stars

& I missed you being here

but knew this

if you were

you would not be standing

on this cold canal bank

inhaling a Dutch dark night

feeling the frost deep

as you will always run away

when there is warmth to be had

just born this way

I got played

many times

too many to get specific here

but they won over & over

mainly because

I couldn’t be arsed

to get down

play dick moves back

do the he said she said

routine

go running to authority

be petty in the details

to fuck them over

as they fucked me

& if that’s what it takes

to win

then

you know exactly

why I continue to lose

have lost

& will lose again

badges of honour

as young’uns

scars are exciting

badges of honour

disclaimers of doing

adventure medals

to talk on when risk is done

then we see the old’uns

with knobbly hands

straining to open a jar of pickles

& we oblige

we listened when they told

of their escapades

the wars fought lost & won

though they shy

of sharing the pains

caused from their youthful forays

arthritis coldening in summer sun

biting flaring into cracked bones

when winter comes

& catch their heads shaking

was it worth it for this?

she got

to telling stories

cos the truth was not enough

to gather enough sympathy

& I was indeed sorry to let her go

tried in my own way make it soft

do it slow

& what she missed

in letting folks know

I had a dark side

was I had that locked down tight

scared to let it go

even though the girl hurt me

didn’t care for anybody

beyond herself

& when I was with her

lying side by side

I knew if I had to live

I had to let go of her

while keeping hold

that dark side of me

I would go

wandering

because everywhere

away from there

held colours

adventures

strong possibilities

other than NO

some turned into scrapes

multi hued bruises

difficult long nights

contemplating bleak futures

& the others?

man they held promises of life

lives beyond compare

but the authorities

if & when they found me

always returned me there

& I would gather together me

my resources

hold tight for a while

before I could escape again

cut of a jib

a certain look in the eye

roll of the shoulder

when facing adversity

always attitude always

a world view

may be different

but clear thought out

prepared to argue

hold their own against yours

knows cant when seen

ditto for pretence falsity

cheap imitation shoddy

will pick you up

when you can’t

can & will knock your door

any time day or night

& you know theirs

is a safe place too

& all of this means

we don’t find friends

we recognise them

tolls paid

looking at a family photo

not my family or my photo

the man eyes bright arms around his kids

grandkids all together & smiles

the wife separate by about a foot

half smile side on to show the slim

emphasise the gap between her

the kids grandkids extended family

& I thought long

on her strength in holding herself

apart

to keep anyone else

from crowding in

& the toll that must take

on her

& all the family