people

you have to give them five minutes or more

let them know you’re really listening

& people will tell you anything everything

fella had a government job now

the kind where integrity is meant to count

& as we had nowhere to go

had our no judgement faces on

he opened up some about himself

slight hint of glint in his eyes

I was thirteen fourteen had this fetish

about hair womens’ hair that is

he rushed on: I’m no pervert…

I set myself up corner of a street

& when a woman came by I spun a story

of doing research would wash her hair

two products for her to say which one was best

the third or fourth along one said yes

took me to her home luckily no one else was there

& as she leant over the tub as I soaped that lovely head

washed her long hair twice

& she chose one as the best so I left that there as a gift

dunno how I got away with that & I never did it again….

the glint left his eyes like a doll running down

& for a minute or two nobody looked in each others eyes

was this truth? was this for real?

some other story told in disguise?

we never spoke of this ever again

if you really

want to know a country

its geography topography

indigenous peoples

travel by bicycle

better still: walk

be broke

labour amongst the unskilled

working for low pay

live amongst the lost

for they understand

where the battle lines lie

& anybody who has ever tasted

the bitter of being broke

will tell you

the rich will give you nothing

of their everything

while the poor will share everything

of their nothing

& this was always

will always be

so

attitude

arrogance

some would call it

but we

knowing no better

travelled away

anyway

carrying that fresh naivete

of youth

thinking people are kind

are good

& that combined

with a good set of shoulders

an easy smile

& a don’t fuck with me

attitude

gets anybody

a long way

& most of the time

it did

& the hard memories

formed character

anyway

eh?

space to feel seems gone

the wisdom once was

when a loved one dies

make no great decisions

for at least a year

yet I know one

got rid of his clothes within days

another made clear

plans he’d laid for the one

he’d always loved to move in

no time for reflection

on the passing

bereavement loss

space to feel seems gone

no black armband widows weeds

no setting the dinner place

for the one gone on

no slow sorting of a life’s hobbies

passions now laying empty

instead

a casting off to charity

worse to the trash or to fire

remnants left at the kerb

for the winnowers

of anothers’ destiny

& a strong avoidance

at all times

of mention the loss

if you please

foray into the frozen north

we were looking for a drink found a dive bar we liked the look of

dived in ordered beers took a sip

& this voice said something low about southern queers

I did my best to not look up but Bob being made that way

said slow back hey whassup?

& the voice said southern types like you can’t hold their drink

two beers you’re running to piss like the little ladies you are

ok says Bob let’s see right now who can drink runs to the shitter first

losers pay for the drinks tall glass

there was a booth at the back dark dingy table top all cracked

we sat down opposite sides tried to talk nice for a little while

after the fourth I needed to piss

& when they got up to get the drinks: I said Bob man I gotta go

is when he confided: I’ve been twice just use a glass under the table

knock it over with your foot

so I did just before the round arrived

we were tucking in to those as the voice leaned in grim

look I’m sorry for what I said you fellas are decent guys but now I gotta go

& as he got up to go ok says Bob been nice talking with you too

but me & my lover boy here we gotta blow & the tab is on you

those were the terms we agreed

right?

& we split as quick can before they found that soaking floor

& outside that dive bar door

Bob says best we run y’know?

these northern types might not take too kindly to soft southern boys

pissing on the rug leaving the tab & a clear up bill

for a dive bar trick bet

fatal admission

I had one great failure

in that I could not hurt her

enough

sure I could leave her

but that would not be it

soft sadism I could do

in increments

to a certain level

but the whole way no

I just wasn’t built that way

why would I want

to hurt beauty?

that I was prepared

to leave to the amateurs

surrounding

filling the world

doing that everyday anyway

who would happily

take my place

be the one in place

in the failure

of me

softly as I can

she asks

in her great age

about my mother

forgetting

& I have to tell her

the saga

over again

otherwise

I mouth lies

falsehoods

& despite that great age

she feels these

knows she is not getting truth

but what she does miss

how close to the surface

the pain lies

in retelling over & over

the unkindness of others

so I tell her

softly as I can

& she takes this in once more

to forget again

oh so quickly

making me choose

to be false or true

& while that was going on

the light woke me

I close the door

after I pee at night

so I must’ve slept straight through

but I needed to go now

& while that was going on

fragments of my dream

came to

chasing wraiths phantoms

I could not hear her voice

had forgotten

what she sounded like

& was climbing a stair

where

a black dog jumping at me

to throw a ball

& tickling I was saying

it’s a pity you can’t purr

like a cat

but her voice?

I’m sure if I heard her

ever again

I’d know for sure

about that &

it won’t be in this lifetime

the things

not supposed to

I forget too easy

the things

I’m not supposed to say

not that I’m coming

from a place

of darkness

putting down another

for how they are

the way

they

construct their world

just that when

I see through

that veil

thin tissue gossamer

of lies

I forget too easy

I’m not supposed to

say my truth

to their eyes