he calls

every couple of years or so

to remind we were once great friends

doing the shit we did to get by

have some fun along the way

& I yeah yeah him some

he tells me of his travels

places he’s been seen

& I no no him I’m doing nothin’ man

makes the calls quicker that way

& I’m not sure he notices

I’m cutting my nails checking my mails

as he boasts prattles down the ‘phone

he forgets i’m the memory man from then

time I won some money he put his hand out

c’mon man we’re friends help a fella out

so I split the cash for friendship dues

hard times we’d fought our way thru’

for some time later

his turn at the winning came & he walked away

I need this money man his tone blunt cold

so now he calls every couple of years or so

& I yeah yeah no no him I’m doing nothin’ man

makes the calls quicker that way

no dog in the fight

I’d be nursing a beer

waiting for friends with change

classic observer mode

man with no dog in the fight

watching waiting listening

clocking the scene

& in they’d come

the handsome men

looking watching wary

while the women

always but always

looked around

checking out the competition

seeing to be seen

their glance would fly over me

I wasn’t a would-be suitor

any competition for the handsome man

just a fella no dog in the fight

nursing a beer

waiting for change

it was the hands

so many times I got told

you have such small hands

the blind lady once told

you don’t have the feel of a worker

you work in an office?

we told her yes

just to get out of the place

but this one

couldn’t get it right

I liked her she liked me

but the bed thing

just could not work out

there in the night

could not get the feel

the touch of her

strange shapes of bodies

my hands too small

we had to call it a day

just be friends

& that did not work out

either

casual as

can you pass the potatoes?

over sunday lunch he leaned in

my old man has issues

couple of guys owe him money

he did the work & now

they don’t want to pay

I was wondering y’know

if you might know anybody

people who might help?

& this is how life changes

I thought we were here for lunch

family friends hanging out easy

but now his true feelings come out

he thinks I’m the kind of guy

knows guys can help collect debts

which of course I do

but now the pretence of family

easy going friends ends

the problem I tell him flat

is those kinds of guys bring in

more problems than they end

do you really want that?

so now I’m an unhelpful fella

rather than a wise friend

& our charade parade of ease

tick tocks to an uneasy end

as your new face

Before I got comfortable

with me

I’d go looking

for the right bar

right group of friends

right girl

to make everything

right

in the world

to find slow

that is not how things

were going to be

people sniff need in the air

like a raw scent

loneliness

like mould on a peach

you want love?

you better not need it

wanting friends acquaintances

money place to sleep

the stink will roil off’f you

the crowd will sense that coming

as you walk down the street

only wanting a friendly face

a good place to meet?

try indifference

as your new face

that will get you around

& I’d rather

They come

& sit for a long time

& I have no clue

as to what they want

if I’m lucky

they bring booze

have something to say

unfortunately more often

they want to drink mine

pretend to listen to what I say

to later

rip that apart

with other people

masquerading as friends

& I’d rather

sit in an empty room

my faux silver radio on low

background sounds

chirping away

knowing the company

wants to be there

know better

got into a word tussle

with would be once friends

of mine

the kind

think their politics are better

if you’d just take their time

about how I had no fashion sense

style

I told ‘em

I bought these socks

hold the stink in same as

these underpants don’t ride

& my working man black levis

will always stand the test of time

this shirt I bought from a thrift

when I had little to no money

you’re saying what you got is better

because the names stitched in

you got more cash to spend

from your grind?

& you’d think I’d know better

to waste energy words

on these snobby types

but it was worth it

wipe that smirk smile

swallowed the hook

I swallowed the hook clean

& if I can plead self defence

knowing I would get nowhere

if I hadn’t made that so

but now I’ve pulled out the line

while the hook is choking me

& the line of once friends

is getting thinner as we go

but there can be no other way

if I want to finally be free

stand up in the sun feel the breeze

nothing pulling anchoring me

if I can say I’m sorry

for offering other peoples lies

but now I’m trying to not be the puppet

dangling hanging twisted caught

in those rotten degraded

hidden lines

whence you came

There is always more than one way out

turn your life around

you can always go full circle

go back from whence you came

sure there may be a sense of defeat

hints of shame or failure so I’m told

a learning to be gained from about

or a sidestep to pick up let rip

with the money on a train bus

go missing leave your phone laptop

take flight fright in the night run

new town new life fresh wife love

or

you can send me photos from your phone

of your piles of money

rag eared thousands in cash

your grinning drug running buds

stacks of full baggies plain view

& we can wait for the po po

to kick in your door

stop you in your car or street

& hey presto

your new life will arrive

new threads new friends

complete

still talking

bottle of pink

rose d’anjou was all I could afford

wandering down to yours

walking slow through downtown

bricked up doors metal gridded stores

wondering just what

I was getting myself into

unaware you were thinking

much the same

& we saw each other

for just a little while

recognising we were

better friends than lovers

keeping in touch over time

to see you three months before

before you died

& y’see?

I’m still talking to you

today