dog in a hat

there were lessons delivered

back of the hand

kick of the flying feet

nobody owes you anything

you have to fight to get what you want

you deserve nothing from anybody

& I might be a slow learner

but those teachings

took some time to be absorbed

but even a dog in a hat

knows how stupid these truths are

& now when I hear the teacher is hurt

I don’t do her biddings no more

there comes a time to remind

nobody owes you anything

you have to fight to get what you want

you deserve nothing from anybody

as the fella once said

live by the sword die by the sword

& the dog in the hat as ever

will just nod along to all of that

too much too much

cold fish floating down stream

all you do is drift came at me hard with a hint of snarl

& for a second I considered a bass salmon or trout? but no

there were other insults too which right now I CBA to share

all of this was in context of her earlier kind sharing

I was too intense too emotional too much in her face

so being a reasonable man I’d backed off some

still be the warm open person see how it goes y’know?

but no seems I’d taken my foot off the pedal too much

too much too much yeah that was me

but of course the real reason being I was not the right man for her

& all I need do now was wait for her to get there to that understanding on her own

holding a strong feeling too that might take a while

she was having too much fun deciding who was who what was what

as I began retrieving my shit from her place nonchalant as I could

one bit at a time creating space help the thinking come along

& yes you guessed it came the time: I think you need to pack your shit & go

it feels to me like you’re not here anyhow cold fish floating down stream

& I drove away with my toothbrush turning my phone off

thinking I’d change the door lock avoid the places we used to go for a little while

this was the time to take too much too much time just for me

see if I’d recovered the smile

& that’s how easy it is

early morning

dragging myself back home

from I forget what

walking across the city

& a voice says hi!

falls in beside

begins gushing good to see you

haven’t seen you in how long?

the brother of a friend

I rode motorcycles with

& he’s being so effusive

to the point of shifty smelling a rat

but he won’t break step

hey I gotta get some cigarettes here

I go in with as he buys smokes & gum

puts a twenty on the counter

gets his change & we walk on

thank you for that he says appreciated

for what? ‘cause I don’t know

that was a fake twenty

you being there helped me front it

& that’s how easy it is

to get dragged in to a stupid crime

that would get a man time

brother of a friend taking advantage

me minding my own walking home slow

neil neil orange peel

we were staying in a hotel in Lyme

the irony of that being

Lyme disease had almost killed me

I could no longer teach

hold my therapy groups

as my memory had gone

taking my general health with it

we were sat in the bar when

this young woman came in

said Neil how are you?

& I recognised her vaguely

as I did everything at that time

& we talked a while until

two men came in ordered drinks

Steve she called out to them

this is Neil used to run my therapy group

& I could see his face cloud over

not just with the booze

ah the great neil neil orange peel

she blushed said he embarrasses me

I would go home after group & say Neil says

& he’d be neil neil orange peel

she got up to go so good to see you

left me thinking how many more

people did I teach nothing to?

for claire

just right

if you were asking

which I’m no longer sure

you were

as a younger man

I’d’ve told you

I was an easy man to love

there was a queue of lovers

in front of me it seemed

but when they departed

taking their time

each one took a piece of me

leaving less & less behind

though I was told

I was learning some

if the teaching was unkind

& now I know for sure

will tell you deep in the night

I know I’m not easy to love

but what I’m giving

you can hold up to the light

see it is solid heavy

& for you & only you

just right

it was her

it was her alright

pushing into the store

just ahead of me

& for a nano second

I felt that chicken urge

high retreat retreat bugle call

run tf away now

but no

I walked in head held high

began driving that trolley

like I knew what I was doing

putting groceries greens

reading labels

like you’ve never seen

then she pushed her sunglasses

top of her head

spoke to the weasel with her

said let’s go gets some doughnuts

& I did not recognise

her voice those eyes

felt the flood of relief

rise up from my legs

fill my head

the world had tilted right again

replaced

I turned up to rehearse

there was a new guy there on bass

new girl singing into the microphone

I hung around for a while

knowing my time was done

wishing

they’d saved me the journey over

faint blush of embarrassment

but no

picked up my bits & pieces of kit

turned to go

ok fellas see you around

thinking finding the stairs

they’ve still got a shit sound

no melodies rhythm

there’d been no improving

my being here had meant nothing

maybe my absence

might mend something

another door closing

another one to be found

oh baby

he didn’t like my kind

not of course said straight from him

but delivered through the mouth

of another

seems I’d said something

he thought uncouth

saw me now in a different light

& I was thinking oh baby

you don’t have a clue

if a person can say one thing

creates distance for you

best you get quick to practising alone

because that

is what those attitudes will bring you

maybe later when the growing occurs

give me a call & I’ll let you know

if I can be doing with one who gets others

to deliver their words for them

riding the apron strings of mommy

see if you can make amends

then

& he thinks they & we don’t know

up at six

roll out of bed cup of coffee

no comb across that dead head

out into the cold dark yard

his old man already working

feeding the animals cleaning up dirt

thinking of starting the tractor

telling everybody life isn’t hard

& he opens the doors to the shop

lifts a car hood gets to fixing

no breakfast no coffee no breaks

on until 2 when his boy takes over

he gets a shower then changes his shirt

goes walking down to the local bar

& a beer on the way won’t hurt

there he’ll be until six talking to folks

to say goodbye be on his way

& he thinks they & we don’t know

he’s on to the next bar over maybe

another one after that roll in about ten

takes his cold dinner eats about half

maybe a night cap to take the edge off

roll back into bed to sleep until the six alarm

& he knows this ain’t no way to live

but he’s yet to find something better

give him a reason to care or give

for H