can’t reach him

he’s drinking now

& I can’t reach him

anymore

oh we talked

his family have spoken

he knows the score

heading into bloat

letting everything go

the girl he loved

gave the vows to

saw him the last time

funeral of a friend

the three of us

times we had stood together

laughing there at the bar

thought they’d never end

the dead man had to slow

his body giving up

telling him this was so

& me

I can’t reach this one anymore

my words float by

& I can see by the look

in his eye

that I just don’t understand

coming home to you

I found all these places

had experiences

only you were not there

& I could tell you

all about them

but why should you care

just words from a weary traveller

tales of wonder woe

places you & I could go

I was tired of living in hotels

meeting working with strangers

eating drinking sleeping alone

coming home to you

who never knew

how much time I’d been away

there on my own

thinking of you

Those early years

drinking fighting together

in the low bumping along life

sharing whatever we had

my girl became his girl & versa

& I defended him fierce

when that time came

helping each other out

thumb in the air one winter

to bring him food money booze

the kind of blues beyond sad

we drifted away for a while

until he came back to town

& we carried on like before

homecoming buddies from the war

time changes people they say

how to find the way to say

I found he’d become like other people

the kind who inch worm their way

try to be above one another

one night playing the slots

I made a useful win

he came along hand out

grinning brothers in sin

I gave him some money thinking

time came he’d do the same

forgetting he’d shed his earlier skin

& sure enough time later

he had his own luck come in

my turn for the hurtin’

I put out my hand

& he turned away

be anything

those days

where work

was a thing we did

to earn easy money

pass the time between drinking

& if we quit

there was another job down the road

nothing was taken too serious

where if the foreman

got up himself

blown out by self importance

we’d fuck him around

lose his lunchbox

shift his plans around

set fire to his newspaper

while he was reading it

put salt in his coffee

be anything

than full grown men

when she left

how many lines times

have I started in just like that

tho’ now I can’t remember the pain

only

that I had it real bad

going on for end of living please

out way beyond sad

drinking in the morning

hoping to not feel the afternoons

start in again on nights

until each day the pain eased

not so much to notice

just the aching seemed to pass

began picking myself up

going out to face the day

hoping not to meet anybody who’d talk

the bruises might not show

there just under the surface

& then one time the sun caught my eyes

like as not to cry

but I felt something that knew

give it time

I could turn this into a low smile

begin living again

wasting police time

I don’t remember now where or when I found her

we dated a few times but never did the intimacy thing

a complicated girl I thought felt never gave up much

until I put a few vodkas in her she told her story of woe

dating a high flying lawyer she’d met on the Friday train

coming home from the city to the same small town

how fun he was drinking with the crowd witty bright

they’d pull into a restaurant eat have a few more

& then he’d take her home or to his place to stay

most times it was great but then came the turn

every now & then he’d turn bitter angry want to fight

she’d hide in the bathroom call the police for help

they’d turn up take her home just a sad bad night

until

the time she called for help & he turned the police away

saying she’d gone home everything was a ok

she had to call them again they came got her out

while he claimed she’d turned up again fighting drunk

this time they took her to the station put her in a cell

sat for a long time talking suggesting quietly strong

she was missing the story here not understanding

what was going on this was who the guy was

it was she putting herself in danger playing the lottery

whether the evening was mr nice guy or demon from hell

& tonight she was staying until they decided in the a.m.

if they were to charge her with wasting police time

using them as a taxi service instead of emergency help

they did not press charges & she said she understood

if feeling outraged at the refusal to white knight again

port towns

I was struggling to gain traction

my heels could not dig in anywhere

& thankfully Alex the Viking offered me

a blanket & sofa place to lay my head late nights

give me an address to look out from

& I turned up four nights out of seven

not wanting to queer the pitch

his girl was ok about it this older woman

who didn’t seem to mind the motorcycles

drinking doping trips to sea out trawl fishing

gone for days back flush with money & thirst

he asked me to stay over while he was away

look after her

around night two late I woke found her arm of the sofa

nightgown short slightly askew is there anything I can get

do for you?

I mumbled from under the blanket I’m ok thank you

& turned over knowing my time there was closing

when Alex came back

he took me for a drink all smiles thank you for looking after her

gave me a wink when I said

I’ll find another place to stay

ok man whatever you say

whose

caught sight of you

coming out of a

downtown supermarket

as ever

your man carrying your bags

you looked ok

considering

& I wondered idle

who he was

whose money

you were drinking on now

whose car

you were slowly wrecking

walls gateposts ditches

were always your nemesis

that & putting oil in the things

I drove away slow

thankful

you were not in my rearview

anymore

oh lord yes

I found find the drinking easy

very few tastes I didn’t don’t like

on first name meeting terms

& the bloat didn’t discover me

for the first ten years or so

but now as I move towards

other than the barroom light

pants trousers shirts

seem to be getting tight

& now there has to be

a conscious decision

today I won’t drink

not in a twelve stepper way

oh lord no

but these things others

don’t need

to say or even think

lets do something other

than drink today

so many ways

there were all kinds of crazy

living in the hotel cheap week rates

near to the seafront beach

& I’d run that every morning

something to do try to change my ways

she’d come round every afternoon

floral tea cup held out y’got anything to drink?

& I told her every time I wasn’t drinking today

but she never believed kept knocking

the thin gay boy who wanted to suck my cock

who too didn’t believe when I said I was not inclined

& the fateful night

coming in late from night school

her door was open come in! come in!

I’ve had a windfall

the crazies all there sipping from bottles

I sat for a while dozing under a yellow lamp

as the crazies drifted away one by one

she droned on about past loves

big money scores to come

& around two I woke to a head between my legs

warm fuzzy feelings I’d forgot I could have

waking in the morning thinking time to run

in so many ways