if anything

if anything

I remember

her smell

taste of her lips

when we met

& her complaint

that all I did

was grind along

as if

that were my choice

& if anything

she gave no clues

strong hint of direction

how to do

anything

else

not there yet

I took the longest time

coming in from the cold

avoiding people

interactions the places

people go to meet

not quite getting the signals

misunderstanding the simple

it seemed there was a code

everybody else had clues to

& I didn’t have the key

I tried beyond anything

those around me knew

my mewlings seemed another

language dialect speech pattern

nobody had any idea to what

I was rambling on about

so again I withdrew

& I’m still trying to come in

out of the cold slow unsteady

pushing on only too aware

I’m not there yet

polaroid

American breakfast

there at the ihop

just off’f the strip

as the pancakes came

commotion at the stop light

big window framing

boy dragging high yellow girl

out of a cab

reaching for her clutch bag

giving her a slight back hand

tears angry words then kisses

they came in eyes all around

staring them down

she all pretty smiles soft talking

him money in hand sitting back

grinning king for the day

full of yeah baby whatever you says

counting cash under the table

we’ll eat then get you fixed

me looking on

this hopper photo play

thinking whatever last night was

is gone

today is a new day

for these cats

to do over again

enough for the action

I loved her once

well

more than a few times

would have continued on for more

but

felt none of my efforts meant anything

& if we meet now

she acts as if none of that happened

which I guess only confirms

the truth in all of that pit of feelings

I find no fault in myself in this

at least I tried gave up what I could

& if none of that was enough

she had a voice

enough for the action to happen

if not to gain

satisfaction

side men

I could handle being a side man

back then

loving the ladies then sending them home

but it’s a condition all side men eventually

suffer from

wanting to be the man centre stage

fronting the band leading the show

3 married blondes in a row

eventually killed the gig

felt very much like they

were passing this old boy around

no crises

long thoughts on the morality of it all

just a tiredness of juggling other people

their sad lives

providing comfort

backing

to other men’s wives

plenty enough

I had an old music player

the same old seven vinyl albums

I played over over

that & a radio needing batteries

more often than I had them

& books

these came from the library

or there were a couple of bookstores

offering a two for one deal

I’d pick up unreads from friends

any old shit they hated discarded

such were my evenings

sat in my worn dumpster chair

pen notebook close to hand

reading with the music soft

in case the phone rang

it never did

or the door got knocked

that seldom happened

no tv no booze no women

there were a few times these turned up

good women who appeared disappeared

to sneer at the lack of furnishing

complain about the empty fridge

mouldy cheese bread & who needs butter anyway?

they would want to improve the place

& later try the same for me

new sheets curtains a towelling bath mat

these of course lasted longer

than any of them ever did

they’d complain I wasn’t the marrying kind

huff & puff slam the door be gone

the problem being I didn’t understand then

what the problem with me

was

me

to the mrs. shepherds

mrs shepherd would come see me

bring a mars bar

to listen she said

to anything I might want to say

faint hopes wishes dreams

as we sipped cooling tea

smoked cigarettes

bringing to mind

the kind ladies over the years

who fed me biscuits stale cake

a sofa to sleep on

when they found me on cold nights

after I’d run away

again

these too would offer a smile

wish me well as I left

all hopes for the future

shining through the worn edge

of their kindness

slowing my runaway train

of bleak sadness

here’s to you

the mrs. shepherds

thank you

no love

sitting here no money

hoping you are not alone

looking out over these rooftops

hoping for a light a sign

I know clear when you’re lost

you can always turn around

retrace the steps you took

but to go back

to a place you once lived

is like the mythical river

putting your toe in deep

not the same water flowing

different time different zone

no love you are not alone

though tonight you may not have

company

these days

through the border into spain

mid morning over the pyrenees

the hog growling off rock walls

all I heard was wind & purring

enjoying leaning the curves

then suddenly

cars across the road

machine guns being waved

we were stopped dead

a hand demanding papers

in that universal sign language

we took our helmets off

they saw the blonde

& everything changed

as that always does

they waved us on

later that day on the news

we saw the big story of the day

they’d picked up an ETA fella

being moved over the mountains

back of a Yamaha

that being how they do these things

these days

flop

the room was ok

not too hot in summer

none too cold in winter

a drowsy bed hollowed by bodies

hundreds thousands of nights

the door had a lock a good foot could kill

but we made sure everybody knew

there was nothing of value to be had

which there wasn’t

a few t shirts pants shirts socks coat

text books dog eared & coffee stained

my old red radio needing batteries

& if I was lucky a couple of tins a loaf

who needed butter salt n pepper?

pads of paper with scribbles even i

struggled to decipher read ever again

but the view saved the grey of the place

rooftops across the city chimney pots

aerials flat roofs gables windows

lights at night throwing shadows

as I sat dreaming of Spain France California

better days to come