so few

& a couple of them

are now dead

not that I didn’t want more

my hand is always open

as is my heart

but the pool is small

can hold my hand tight

in theirs

mine darkest nights

the few know

no time is the wrong time

every moment we have is now

& that in itself surprises me

so few understand

hold on to each other

when the rain comes

the sun shines

as each are but the same

Ranters ball

there was some confusion

there at the Ranters ball

we were guys hanging a line

see whether it would

could stack up

on a Saturday night with other poets

giving it everything

or just flutter out free fall

some were there for love

wanting the pretty young things

take their thin paper number

drag it out make nervous calls

others had the speech

make it about truth to power

but I was looking around

our grubby community hall

could hardly keep the lights on

to wonder if what we had

was more about the numbers

whose ears we could numb

who’d come for the party the booze

but otherwise

did not care much

we had anything to say at all

walking a vineyard

we were walking a vineyard

in the evening summer heat

I was being straight about this

if you want to come along

take the ride

I promise it’ll be interesting

sometimes a little eventful

hills bumps & valleys

be things we’d prefer forget or hide

but baby

you & me can go on forever

we may not get to wear halo’s

be just about getting by

but I’ll stick with you

if you will stick with me

so what do you say baby

you coming inside?

& she tried for a year or two

there wasn’t that much hardship

& the end when it came

was more about the stuff you need

to keep you going

the steel you need solid inside

was missing

covered in a thin veneer

blonde pine

blonde pride

don’t worry soldier

a tap on the shoulder

a face in mine

hello lover how are you

everything aright?

& I had to look deep into those eyes

remember a time some long ago night

yeah everything is good

& you?

hoping she’d know

not to be misunderstood

mine was an easy ok

not giving too much back

she smiled

I saw her waver

could almost hear her heart beating

yeah don’t worry soldier me & you

we’re always good

& with that she slipped aways

soft into the black night

songs you sing

putting together the mix tape

songs to sing to

out on the highway

hearing the tires hum

up ahead the rain clouds

behind a clear sky

as you hit play

& this one doesn’t fit

this one for another time

out on the interstate

mebbe this one

the next

as you wonder what happened

to your sense of taste?

window wide open

as the miles unwind

stopping for coffee & gas

scanning the racks for something new

everything you love

you’ve already played

& the hours roll on

as all those things that meant

so much yesterday

have all upped vanished gone away

in your rear view

the person who cared

followed the rules

is not this one

rolling on

to be an adventurer

to return to places

is now

to be an adventurer

for what was

is now not is

the eye gets drawn to the differences

the houses bars shops

filling in  with places

where there used to be spaces

plots for vegetal

peasant peon poverty smallholdings

& the offer has changed

from rural to mccy’d’s

burger king Kentucky fried sunglass hut

o’neill swimwear rayban surfer dudes

chain supermarkets offering the same

no need to sprechensee le lingo

everybody habla hello ciao

grazie a’voir prego danke

nein danke bitte merci thank you

have a nice day

& we swear to never return

but what is

will not be

next time

tell me he said

I really wanna know

how come you

& those women

get on so well?

& I wanted to tell him straight

but knew if I explained easy

he wouldn’t believe

get it at all

so I poured him a drink

looked him straight in the eye

ok ok but first

why are we friends?

he had to think for a while

so I poured him another

well he began slow

you don’t bullshit me

you’re not scared to tell me the truth

& don’t seem to care if I don’t like that

& how are you

with those women?

I asked all quiet slow

well I want them

but can’t get close to them

can’t afford them but do try

they say they like me but nothing happens

& you?

oh I like some of them

I just don’t want them or need them

I poured him another

you don’t need them? want them?

he seemed puzzled by that

but you get on so well

yep I said

& sighed

pouring myself another

this was going to be a long night

she comes she comes

she comes toward me

smoking a cigarette

& I smell immediately

a strong mix of smoke & perfume

she stops as she sees me

its you! its you!

as she moves in for an embrace

like the last time never happened

as if we left as friends

she nuzzles in

you still smell the same

polite as ever I say as do you

she lets go & says

fatter tho!

your new woman must be feeding you well

like she doesn’t know

I have no new woman

I still have the one

after her

she starts coughing at her joke

& I can hear her lungs creaking

soggy & sodden

her dry larynx & tongue clacking

still on 40 a day

& you gave up for her didn’t you?

she has more questions now

that i have no desire to answer

I sidestep

I must go must go

& she tries to come with

you meeting her for lunch?

no I go I just gotta go y’know?

as her face falls

knowing I do not want her

to follow

be warned

non gendered

pissing shitting

in france spain

they seem not to be frightened

of the vagina the penis

whatever bits you have

bars cafes restaurants hotels campsites

have one toilet toilettes servicios

a half wall covering one pissoir urinal

& going past that

a row of maybe two sit down toilets

where who you are

what you need to do

is your decision

the choice responsibility is yours

you are expected to behave

& act accordingly

the rest of europe

is not so sophisticated


be warned

for the longest time

there were some emotions

I held at distance

not anger

that I was in constant touch with

having no fear of

but happiness

I’d touch that like a tongue

to a sore tooth

and back away quick as

fearful that if I stayed in contact

for too long

I’d contaminate the feeling

would jeopardize it

bring bad luck

wanting to save the chance

for the lift

if I had a bad day

& had to work at changing that

so now I can feel happy

in the moment

the now

actually BE happy

& that worked

well mostly kinda