that connection is lost

there! there!

I shout

pointing out

there in the scrub of the high plains

to see a rock brown man

blanket over shoulders

herder of a large flock

she sees her first shepherd

live & counting

though she doesn’t understand

my excitement

seeing him doing his job

miles from anywhere

keeping the link alive

between us him our ancestors

who came this way

herding sheep goats cattle

feeding the village the pueblo

the tribe fed in winter

her not understanding

demonstrating how easy

that connection is lost

dos noces

at the airport Alicante

got shit to do

drinking coffee at tim hortons

looking out the window

knowing for sure

less than 10 miles away

is the perfect spot to sink a few

watch the sun set in a blaze of gold

as the sea ripples in

soft & low

& in the morning the light

comes up slow

a hint of pink in an ink black sky

as the temperature rises

I can sit there for days

& have done before

making a week last

a fortnight

until regretful comes the time

to go

just not today

today we’re dropping off loved ones

will drive on elsewhere

knowing that place

will still be there

for another day

the seasons

unadorned

this face changes

only for

the seasons

state of tired

the years

I’m reflecting on this

while she fusses & fiddles

with paints & cosmetics

re arranges her hair

for the nth time

then there will be

eyes to put in

lippy to put on

while I growl around

grumpy

looking at my watch

thinking of the drive

the people going to see

to catch sight

of my face in the mirror

to wonder

how much time it might take

if I were to put on

my best face

in the crowd

he sends a pic

a card a bottle

a shot

a caption

to absent friends

& though I am there

in the crowd

he has reached in

pulled me out

leaving me

standing alone

top of the hill

toasting to the loss

the death

of a great friend

& to my ever sorrow

I did this more than the once

creating a ritual

I make my way to the bar

order a shot

raise the glass high

say the words

to absent friends

which is never enough

is it?

a poor Harvest

she is gone now

reminded of that

& her

with Neil Young on the radio

those early evenings then

those long players rolling

in the background

poor as church mice

sharing whatever we had

while we talked of life

all other things

we knew nothing

though we knew full

we knew everything

such is the way of youth

& she is gone now

that is the real truth

taken so early

while others live on

a poor Harvest

for me

resides

never was

a last goodbye

that I recall

with any certainty

maybe a peck on the cheek

a see you later

but no

& if I did not know

that was our last time

did you?

did you take a long look

& decide

that this would be the

letting go?

if so I can live with that

the idea

the badness is all yours

even if all the sadness

resides

over here

ribbons or honours

so many

did not make it to here

though there are no medals

ribbons or honours

all we did

was one foot in front of the other

take in

the next breath & the one

after that

some just fell asleep

others battled with cancers

illnesses the virus’

car crashes motorcycle mayhem

clown slips on ice

falls pratfalls the kki’s

winnowing

thinning out

this easy to kill

herd

no medals no honours

but a gratitude

our turn has yet

to come

livers of lives

there are no descriptions

here

of those supposed

to be the great

& the good

here are my friends

enemies

& me

made of the earth

foul mouthed

livers of lives

lived by the many

not the few

to be payers of bills

persecuted from an early age

the cannon fodder

to fight in wars

we never started or wanted

only given to us

as things that must be done

won

for glory we never

get to share

setting the tone

she speaks now

from outside the door

when once before she’d come in

put her hand on my shoulder

only to jump at my own flinch

the surprise I’d shout out

but now it’s:

can I get you anything?

setting the tone

not wanting to press on

the ptsd of unwanted touch

instinctive learned behaviours

inflicted imposed by those

who know no better

than their own needs