for the touch of a hand

boarding a bus for four hours

then finding my way through back roads

asking uncertain strangers

if you lived just up ahead

tapping your door

just as the light faded to grey

waiting & hoping

I’d got the right place day

your mother coming to the door

asking forthright could she be of help?

knowing then in the instant

I’d been a fool for love again

setting back in the dark

feeling heat & shame in my face

down the same back roads

waiting for a bus to come

another four hours swaying in the night

back to the place I’d started from

& if nothing is ventured

nothing is gained

but as I adventured on that long journey

this fool knew nothing would ever

feel the same

again

edge of the lips

there was a little sneer there

edge of the lips

not enough to set a challenge on

but enough to be seen

as he looked me over

there in the line to get into the show

somewhere I’d failed his code

be cool

in my style of clothes

haircut or god knows

shoes?

& of course I was amused

anybody who cares

what other people think

about their clothes

style

way of being

in their so cool head

has barely left school

& the same for those

who think that child way

Robert Fletcher

there as a facsimile signature

standard letter from the bank

I wondered & wished

tho’ very much doubted

it was him

my old childhood friend

fellow bicycle rider

countryside explorer

defeater of black hearted foes

defender of hedgerow forts

come now to a sticky end

as faceless facsimile on standard forms

if it was possible to reach out

see if it was my youthful mate

& if there was some recognition

would there be any point

here at childhoods end

in finding commonality

with an electronic signature

faceless graceless

printed on paper

janus

aka the poison dwarf

call me stupid

I can certainly accept naïve

as I never fully understood

why her mother hated me so

full with her whole heart

sure I got

I was living with her baby girl

was never going to be good enough

to be shacked up with her

doing the dirty without a ring

high church white dress & all that stuff

for my part

I was being careful

not to let my feelings show

having heard the horror stories

her little girl had told me

of mummy dearest’s mistreatment

but hey

that day the hate was going one way

& it was only when the smoke cleared

she & me were over & done

& I was top of her shit list

that it hit me

she’d been telling tales

horror stories to her ‘rents

what a shit I was

& that’s why they hated me

she’d played both sides

one against the other

leaving her to do as she pleased

modus operandi Janus the perfidious god

aka the poison dwarf

getting everything she wanted

by growing the world

to hate

the player

manipulator of dreams

driving along

one eye on the future

drifting inwards on what was

feeling something tugging deep

music on the radio

a song reminds me of you

a time we were together

when all that was fun

& I’m not unhappy thinking of you

the feeling elides slides over

were you worth it?

have I let all of you go?

floating over we had our time

there in the sun

& too soon the track changes

goodbye my friend

until the world works

conspires to make me think of you

adieu as I drive on

into a new setting sun

& how will they ever know

if you do not tell them?

but you no longer wish

to torture them with your truth

the tawdry sordid solid details

of misery inflicted

by those who should know better

but somehow just don’t

or maybe cannot do more than this

& so your pain becomes solitary

though you bleed a little here & there

messing up the furniture of another’s life

taking too much responsibility

for pain in others

share they shout in such circles

though you watch their eyes glaze

their shrouds come over to protect themselves

& why should they not?

this is your burden mr.

better you get used to it

there tight across your shoulders

life

it ain’t like the movies

when they put caw caw sounds in

to let you know

this is the scary bit

or skree skreee of buzzards & kites

so’s you understand this is country

& y’aint in Kansas now Toto

or sombre scary music

to let you know hard

this is the bit where

best you pay attention

yeah

life unfortunately

has got none of that

Poet?

wha’da you do all day?

sit & polish fat words?

& the way he said that

yeah he was thinkin’ fat turds

cos that’s what poetry is all about

rhyming stinking blurbs all day

he got taught that in school

poetry gotta rhyme

& I gently tell him

Caesar

riding his chariot into Rome

heading the victory parade

had a fella stood just behind

whispering

remember you are not a god

but just a man

& that my friend

is what poets do

all day

Two years Quarteria Algarve

we were walking slow in the heat

there on the edge of town

& through the weeds reeds

I saw a small square pool

blue & colour tiles looking cool

lets take a look a minute

we tottered off the pavement

onto rough sandy track

& there lay a small quiet water

framed in handmade tiles

showing this pool was for travellers

provided for pilgrims along the way

we sat for a while

enjoying the flat quiet waters

soaking our heated feet

& then headed into town refreshed

two years later we walked again

the town had stretched further out

the pool was still there

encroached by houses now

the beautiful tiles all taken away

& it is true

you can never go back

soak your feet in the same river

same pool twice