earwigging

raised this way listening out

for changes in the vortex

eddies in the system

to keep myself safe

I can spot trouble coming up

see the seeds in the shadows

& this morning taking coffee

woman sat over the way

talking on her day

the fella she lives with

I could hear under the beat

how thin her life was

no passion no power no heat

this grey co-existence

compounded by compromise

no light no purpose no clarity

not my problem not my circus

tho’ I still feel sad in empathy

when did she or he let go

settle for so much less?

give up on expectations

on love on life or happiness

accept so little as theirs

forget life is meant as a struggle

to be more than we are today

she caught on I was listening

her eyes flashed to anger

mind your own said under breath

& thinking I will do that

yes

for you

could not stay

I was happy then

walking between the hedgerows

though this had nothing to do with

the drinks smokes anything

I might have partaken

just

the sky above dark in night

waiting for stars

finding my way along

coming home to you

sounds of the seagulls gone

the ter-whit of an owl

ter-whoo to come

sharp cry of the dog fox

snuffling grumbling of a badger

I was happy then

wandering home to you

in the sloughing of my feet

through the long grass

the suck of sand & clay too

hearing the wind crack branches

against boughs in a black mass of trees

I was happy then

coming home to you

unseen antennae

this invisible magnet

unseen antennae

over my head

pulling in drunk women

by which I mean alcoholic

across the bar the street

any of them needing booze

they ease towards me

arranging smiles & hi’s

& within five

I have a potted history

missing out all of the duff stuff

feeling them feel me out

& who needs danger?

they need a man who

can be with a drunk woman

can handle their shit

& I feel their confusion too

as I smile make my polite refusals

to engage prepare to leave

because they know me

as surely as I know them

one thing I learned twelve stepping

this will be out of my control

& know it is time to go

in shades

my memory

& then….this

I’m hearing stories again

er, no I state loud

needing force here

to stem the flow

& she looks at me

anger visible under the skin

if you are going to tell stories

I have a few of my own

shall we call a truce today?

the colour in her cheeks stays

but she nods okay

gets out of her seat

anybody need a drink?

& I’m reminded again

how thin the line between

uneasy peace & all out war

is in this family

what they forget

how good my memory is

will point out the untruths

worse i hold the evidence

in shades

grifters

that woman you were talking to

well I say it’s more she was talking to me

well he goes on

after you left last night

she attached herself to us

our table y’know?

was talking about her husband

there in the hospital dying of cancer

she got all tearified y’know?

anyway she kept talking

brought everybody down

with her crying going on

went off to dry her eyes

& we never saw her again

end of the night called for the tab

& she’d stiffed us for her drinks

what a bitch! he’s complaining now

grifters man I commiserated

what’s a person to do?

& he looked at me snide

yeah yeah he said that’s why

you cut & run eh? no smile

that’s the problem with the grift I offered

you end up trusting nobody again

mark

here near the shore

the open-air bar arena

you see them all come in

ladies with a book taking coffee

keeping appearances looking at no one

graduating to Gin tonics & ice

some time after 1 o’ clock

a short-skirted woman of a certain age

walking by slow all modest yet

eyeing the crowd checking out

taking a place at the barrel tiki parasol

sitting with the long drinkers always there

flitting out to the pavement for a cigarette

eyes squinted against the sun

waiting for someone a warm body

pick her up catch on take her home

fellas coming in two’s & threes

scoping out the beauties if you please

hoping to find a holiday hottie

& sometimes it happens quick

others by telepathy osmosis slow

the lucky pick up their mark

gets to be not alone for a while

& tomorrow the arena opens again

gold in her ears

she wanted

nothin’

from me my life

ever again

she said

venom in her eyes

tho’ I could not help

but notice

her diamond rings

gold in her ears

designer labels

on the clothes

she wore

but what

she really wanted

was nothing of my love

because there was

nothing

I wanted to give there

anymore

so we parted company

never to meet again

satisfied

by each other’s

gifts

never ending story

fella sitting alone

skinny as a racing snake

letting them know

he is seventy

a widower

missing her the past four years

& how he would trade

any of the women dated

to bring her

his first love his only ever love

back again

then he stands up

does his old man dance moves

swinging on the spot

to a beat only he hears

to sit down again

different people there now

begins his tale of sorrow

he is 70

she is gone for four years

I miss her so

& on

until the end of night

going home alone

but the black dog

gone

sitting here

in the chair

thinking of things

gone wrong

& I know

need now

to stay in contact

reach out

talk to people friends

just to keep on

keep on going

never to give in

but the black dog

says no

stay in

keep quiet

keep out

of everybody’s way

wait another day

another day

speed kills

without a doubt

but if we are to be clear

it’s the sudden stop

that does the damage

& the other

grinding of teeth

depletion of body resources

that kind of speed

takes a while to kill

but the other

lack of action & movement

takes even longer

this grinding of inaction

just taking in the view

forever waiting at stop signs

hoping something

will come along

pull you through

may take even longer

to kill you

but it will

& drag everybody you know

down too