paid hard

paid hard

for the simplest things

you know

everything costs the poor more

in hard earned cold coins

scraping the edges of my tired hands

in the giving over

for each minor mistake

I felt the lash on my bent back

pushing me along

go further along steel tracks

find something there

you can’t be here amongst us

try over again make like new

no accidents here

no missspokes misunderstands

no walking it back

responsibility is only

really there for the low

& I hear them uptown singing now

justice does not apply to me

& I’m wondering why my back teeth ache

this hot anger ebbs & flows

while downtown

only the gospel choir really knows

got things to say

I was sitting right there

but felt I was back row

she had things to say

he had things to say

& those alongside

guess what?

also had things to bray

& me in the back row

had stopped listening

some long time ago

not that they weren’t


had points to make

but man when they’re

not listening

my ears begin to ache

& all I want to say

is just shut up please

a man needs some quiet

has thinking to do

to get his mind at ease

back of the box

hey numb nuts!

he calls across the street

& I of course don’t think he means me

but he does

we talk over a beer or three

& I ask the why of it

its like man y’are back of the box

so often we talk & your answers come deep

seconds mebbe minutes

after the rest of us have moved on

you seem to need to think before you speak

so its like you’re kinda numb y’know

& I don’t though I kinda do

I am back of the box

being remote from the drama the dross

that floats across the street the world these eyes

& if I took it all in

man what an ache that would be

& for a moment I toy with the idea

telling him the things he has missed

failed to notice in his rush to label others

but you know he wouldn’t appreciate that

so I let that go let him slide

as he grins yeah man just like that

so I sigh & we order more drinks

life is safer for all of us that way


the street was crowded

& I could turn away

before she saw me

hide in a shop doorway

watching head down

as she passed by

reflected in the glass

how different

from then

when I could feel her

across a crushed room

in a busy street

& she could feel me too


an ache of want

heat in my bones

& today thankfully

all of that has gone