too caught up

a shoe thrown

through the glass of a door

in a cold hall

I saw her throw it

watched him push the door shut

the impact of shoe on glass

& all I knew

was

they were fighting again

feeling frightened

of these big people

the world would tell me

should love me

be kind caring

happy sometimes

but all I saw

was stone set of jaw

hard staring angry

unkind eyes

too caught up

in their drama

to even think of me

not alone

the understanding

comes later

much later

drinking does not like

want to be alone

& if you won’t

give your company

there always will

be another

give her time space

drive her home

& if you want

you can always

dive into the hurt

feel betrayed

wonder on your

own wounds

but the truth of it is

the understanding

comes later much later

drinking does not

will not

be on its own

for long

we don’t like your types here

they took me in

standing on a corner Friday night

asking rude questions in the car

where you live? where you been?

who you hanging around for?

took my shoes belt cigarettes

threw me in a cell gave me a half hour

while I counted the minutes

wondering if the girl would wait

then they came back

gave me my shoes belt cigarettes

held snotty looks on me while I counted cash

all matter of fact you can go but understand

we don’t like your types here

get that hair cut & this just might

not happen again capiche?

which left me a mile more to walk

back to that corner see if I had company

& there was no sign of her

I made it to the nearest bar sat on a stool

as I ordered she slid in next to me said

ah this is where you are

all I could do was look at her cool & say

next time if there is one lets meet here ok?

just a little while

they came over to take me out

you’ve been in too long

this isn’t like you c’mon

& I closed the door

its ok fellas another time

I need to sit a little while

& I knew they had my interests

there at heart

while mine needed time

I knew this pain would go

they always do

but first I needed

to feel all of that

hold the moments of us for a little while

bouncing off the walls

January

a dark dirty month

another Judy had come & gone

whispering words

how I was a no-good man

nothing would come from us

she had pastures new

& I only had mean responses to that

so sat silent as she left

at least the rent was paid

& now sitting here needing sound

something other

than my own voice bouncing off the walls

rolling poems on paper into balls

those that made the basket

were keepers

the others that did not make the grade

this my friends

was just one of those

picking up pennies

making my way as a student

I’d pick up some teaching pay the rent

go sit in college staff rooms

drinking shitty instant coffee

wait for somebody better off to wail

I got these classes can’t do ‘em all

& it was fast work keeping cool

what day what hours what subject?

injecting all that into casual conversation

let them feel good offloading

the lessons nobody wanted

& if I was lucky they’d give

lesson plans outline curriculae

more often not they wouldn’t

leaving me go see the head of year

make the switch for them

& I’d lose weight running to stay ahead

of students who had the time to read

where I didn’t

& the problem in picking up pennies

is your fingers get dirty

you need to eat stay afloat

but this makes you the handy guy

to keep around sweeper up

never gets the full-time job

burn out the country

my people

were happy to turn me out each morning

to go play in the woods

climb trees build dens

but were unhappy with hunting

the catching rabbits skinning thing

the old man didn’t have shoes

until he went to school

living at the end of a grass track

being poor was just a way of life

& now he lived in a better house

had no interest in me being country

feeling he’d burnt that way of life out

we were town people now

could float airs & graces

drive around in cars

this emblem

our red badge

base of our throats

there for she & me

this emblem

of our heat passion

very possibly

indicator of crazy

we would

do the thing

anywhere

everywhere

anytime

& then one day

hers was gone

& I knew for sure

she was moving on

& I’ve never had this

with anyone since

which maybe

is a good thing

for surely

nobody can continue

that unhinged

for too long

my picture neat in the frame

words were brought up

like cold coffee on a winter morning

asking me to stand by them

expectance laid out clear

would I be backing out?

& I know it sounded lame

but I tried all the same

I stand by what I said then

I just don’t need to do that now

your world & mine has changed

can’t we do the same?

but they wanted hold my feet

closer to the flame

much as I spoke out

on new understandings

they had me down in cold ink

my picture neat in the frame

I had to walk away

laughing out to empty air

these people no imagination in life

they will try to hurt you

by twisting what you once said

waiting to paint you red

put you there in shame

exhaustion

I had three four teaching jobs

each in different towns cities

I’d spend my time driving in winter

summer patching the hog

satchels full of papers flying

feeling nothing but exhaustion

my life going down to the dogs

& nights I’d be with the lovelies

none of whom could offer support

though they had their full-time gigs

going on

living between cheap rented rooms

hoping something might catch flame

help me hold on

waiting for the chance to break in

maybe just a moment catch a breath

& the irony

I was earning my crust teaching others

to get themselves a better life

while running like a hound

trying to catch his tail running in circles

around