meritocracy

they were very clear

with an urgency we understood

there was a meritocracy in play

anybody who was bright

clever in talking out

could be anything

that they ever wanted to be

& it seemed rude to me

a breach of etiquette perhaps

to want to ask

so what happened to you?

you went to a good university

got yourself a good degree

yet you ended up here

teaching me

did you fail to believe in you

is what you teach a lie

or is there

no meritocracy?

down there at the docks

the night watchman

ten o’clock until six am

down there at the docks

I was a know everything

know nothing kid

just about legal age to do the job

watching the empty dockside

try not to sleep until dawn

first night there

the docker foreman said

listen up son you got a job to do

we do ours & yours is

to watch outsiders trying to come in

not try to catch us

go tour the yard see what you can find

& I found nothing all was secure

just the contempt in the guys eyes

here he said this is yours

a sack of fruit & veg

fell off a truck

keep it right between us

& there’s more to come

we all good?

& yes

we were

just a little

lump on my head

needing removal

this may sting he says

just a little

as I feel hear

the local anaesthetic needle

crunch into my skull

they give me some time

just a little

before they cut my hair

needing a clear zone

around the lump

you ok? they go

& I say yeah

I feel them pull my head

begin to hack my skin

any discomfort they ask

oh just a little

as they ignore me

I am now just

a slab of meat

requiring attention

as I drift off to my hill

planting trees

spade into the ground

create a hole

slide in the whip

firm up around

just a little

& wait a while

time to walk

sunny afternoon

just past warm

as the air hung heavy

there was silence in the bar

we were sucking on slow sorrows

I spoke to fill the gap

this piece I’d read

on the human condition

& this one said

fella you are so full of crap

& it’s not like I was quoting

Solzhenitsyn

or god forbid Nietsczche

I gave him the long look

waited ‘til he looked aside

said ok fellas

have it your way

it was time for me

to walk away

we are all transients now

oh she would not know

standing there throwing her rose down

this strange man stood at the back

of her too young gone mothers funeral

oh she knows he used to hang around

but does not know understand why

the music she likes to listen & sing

the origins of her love of music

comes from the well we struck to find

those days when we were too young

playing each other’s records found

crate digging flipping through stacks

long sessions working through tracks

try this hear this listen to the groove

I was just another man passing through

the early days of her mothers life

one that she never got to know

& now never will

The Parisian salon

mid evening at a party a ce soir affair

to which I had not really been invited

but made welcome as a friend of friends

it was made clear too I was in a high-end apartment

a Parisian salon dating back the 16th century

in a desirable neighbourhood the 6th arrondisement

while I was listening I was watching my reflection

there in the mirrored glass doors one of 14 they said

recognising I looked on the way to being drunk

but maybe I was just tired from the days long drive

the large glass of red in my hand gave clues tho’

I saw also the pretty girl I was with who loved me

or so she said whenever the right occasion came

but I could see her checking herself there more than me

& knew clear I’d be leaving her if not today soon

people were talking to me asking pertinent questions

I should be paying for my company by being witty

tho’ I no longer felt bright in that long white room

of overstuffed chairs antiques & those high-flying people

who all toiled in institutions with letters as logos names

I needed to be in a bistro or a workers bar with a beer

thirst sucking on cheap red tasting the atmosphere

but here I was just one more to be networked used

brought into the I know a man who can syndicate

nobody took my number because I was passing through

& glad as I was to have been there to have seen

I was pleased at the end in a cab burning thru’ the city

looking for les deux magots Shakespeare & company

with the Seine glistening black slipping below

taking everything away

& how to refuse?

you can do me here

she offered

with a lascivious smile

wide as a prison gate

I’ll just lift my skirt

& how to refuse?

but I did

suggesting maybe later

thinking much much later

if ever at all

after her fella was asleep

with the dope & booze

he was two fisting

in the corner of the bar

your loss she murmured

drifting away

to find another dope

& sure enough

half an hour gone

her fella

& the wannabe fuckee

were in the alleyway

fighting

I don’t know how I knew

but I knew

instincts maybe

drop you a line

wanted me to drop by say hi

& I went because I’d heard

he was dying & wanted to see

me & Judy split he says

like tears are hiding close by

yeah I heard some story

she found you & her friend?

he scowled like a dog at that

just a thoughtless fling y’know?

anyway I asked you to drop by

talk of times how we let our friendship slide

can you remember how that happened?

could it be the money you borrowed

the music you stole from me

you saw me broke & walked away?

I don’t recall one bit of that he sighed

I thought it was about the time

we shared that apartment

I couldn’t pay the rent ran away

forgot to drop you a line

to tell you I’d met someone new

I’d see you right if not in cash in kind

can I get you a drink? I can’t I’m dying

busted heart broken body mind all gone

yeah ok make it strong & I’ll stay a little longer

I always was a sucker for your lines