you have to listen

he’s not a well educated guy

but being bright

found the right family to lodge with

until they too threw him out

him getting tall & all

then worked his way through

doing the minimum wage thing

getting himself to college

until finally earning good pay

but he doesn’t tell you

any of this straight out

you have to listen

pick out the importants

because we josh we tell stories

laugh like good friends do

over life & the silly shit happens

but just every now & then

I hear the stumble

a tiny stammer hesitate

attempts at words he’s unsure of

while others see him as cocksure

arrogant defiant

not understanding or hearing

he had to be strong

to get himself to be here today

I hadn’t the boots

whadda y’wanna doo?

that question they ask of kids

I remember coming round & round

& I’d already told them

poet playwright writer

understanding by then I hadn’t the boots

for astronaut deep sea diver pilot

but my choices just made them laugh

so now I had no idea

on what it was they wanted me to say

this question designed

to make me feel small

inadequate ill-informed below par

so I’d shrug my shoulders

just murmur I’dunno

& that held them at bay

for a little while at least

while I tried to work out

why these people thought

I couldn’t earn my pay

with a pen the typer now the pc

but they were right

if I tried to live on my earnings

from slinging the line

I’d be even poorer

than I am now

against the tide

these decisions made

late night

hazy days

go this way

against the tide

& the reasons

seemed so good

at the time

then looking back

seeing the wake

wrecked homes

cars bodies lives

like a rat

caught in a maze

hoping for better days

swimming swimming

going your own way

hoping for something more

something that pays

gives you rewards

for choices made

but that looking back

good for nothing gaze

has to stop before

that ruins your new days

putting my eyes on

the door opened

I looked up see who was coming in

her eyes flashed in anger

that I dared to be

putting my eyes on

& I recognised straight right

she was the kind of woman

who feels her beauty as a burden

weight of the world looking on

& me?

I was just another pair of eyes

watching close

& if I could

I would

try to say kind

look love

I got things of my own

going on

I’m not gazing on you

or for you

there’s a feast in my kitchen

& your fragile tapas

won’t fill that hole

I need filling

this day

or any time

tomorrow to come

in hock

fella had his own twist

of the knife

being broke

I’d take my music in

to get pennies on the pound

but that wasn’t the twist

oh no

he’d work thru the pile

Vinyl or CD’s

pulling out maybe 2 in 3

towards himself

& then say:

I’ll give you X…

& you’d think

that was the offer

on the pile he’d pulled out

but no

after you accepted

he’d put the whole of them aside

then give you the money

like he was doing you a favour

with that twist

of the knife

before he sunk it in deep

to your thin ribs

the problem

with travelling

my wanderings

are those lives

I leave behind


who is taking coffee

down at the beach café


when I am no longer there?

or buying groceries

from senorita Pilar

on a slow Martes?

& who now

is joking with the guys

at the public barbecue

about what great surfers

we were

when we were young

I know these things


go on

having been there

done them

but now am gone

moved on


I never knew

as she always dressed well

hair done nails done

eyelashes done

always doing her best to look done


& the air she carried with her

hints of a once model career


above the nose

the smell of the side streets

that she knew for sure I came from

& of money

enough for her good life

assured of course

when she died

we found

she lived in a one room dive

filled with the clutter

of her long years alone

all front no back no sides

cooking on a hot plate& an old coffee maker

living on government money


one day at a time

These things are known

healthy families will talk on

everything & everything personal

the good the bad the indifferent

& it is these open conversations

that create healthy families

unhealthy families hold secrets & hidden shame

& it is the holding of these that stops them from talking

about anything & everything personal in case

any conversation comes close to their secrets or shame

if you as a child from an unhealthy family

try to change any of this

they will

despise you hate you put you down

make you wrong for being you

because you you little shit

are exposing their secrets their shame

showing them up to be

the unhealthy people they really are

do with this what you will

but these things are known

on other nights to come

saturday nights


the full flush of youth

out on the pull

hoping to find

somebody warm

some body alive

any body to have to have

to hold on to

on other nights to come

as I sink lower

into my beer

deeper into my chair

wanting to get out alive

as she hoves into view

hair freshly coiffed

white short skirt jacket to match

see through blouse & white shoes

all lipstick paint & head held high

please don’t pick me

you’ve killed my kind many times


gurn for a living

These poor deluded

children taught to smile

gurn for a living

learning to push each other aside

for a chance at the top

forced to lead lives on view

no thoughts of their own

except for those

the publicists agents allow

keeping going

while their insides die

treading the boards

x marks their studio spot

face paint & the lights

picking out forced diets on show

these poor deluded children

who felt fighting for this future

would be fun