got nothin’

break time on the work site

looking out into the world

sitting on an old paint bucket

eating packet sandwiches

wondering just wondering

how long this money might last

how long could we string

this wall painting job out

watching this guy

slow pushing broom

yeah he shouts serves me right

for not reading staying in school!

& I got nothin’ to say

could add to the fun

I did most of those things

you could look at me now

ask the pertinent question

what went wrong

son?

you gotta

she was a great looking girl

& in the beginning

great fun to be with

good sex good laughs

but over time the mask slipped

almost to come off

she’d share the pillow talk

with her friends

the foolishness inadequacies

fears neuroses day to day gaffes

& she could not cut it out

painting me as the idiot

which I suppose I was

paying her bills filling her glass

I walked away you gotta

when they get to disrespecting

losing the boundaries of what is

you gotta close that door fast

but that don’t mean to do hate

just her reducing me pushed me

to reducing her down too

god I miss that ass

Roma

she took me on a train

to go eat granita shaved ice in a cone

limon flavour dripped over

under the cool colonnades

where her father had taken her

once as a child

& I wasn’t quite sure

who I was here

friend

child?

to discover later

gigolo

lover

& like in all things

money corrupts the absolute view

I had none she had some

my desires were not in play

graft was needed

just not my poetry painting skills

& no matter my feelings

cash was the new medium

for this poor boy

while she played the Contessa

of course

I ran away after a few days

hitchhiking into France to find a younger love

who in turn time did not want me

popeye the painting thief

worked in the big city airport

handling freight & forward baggage

& I remember well

his eyes bright talking of stuff

the goods he handled everyday

& like all of us he was casual

with the things he didn’t own

& with those bright eyes on mine

he pondered out loud how to gain these

make them his & his alone

ransom a painting for the big bucks

we fantasied on cut out notes

fake phone numbers dead drops

how to do a pick up of cash

like in the movies not get stopped

& I heard no more for a while

until one day the local rag

lying on the bar I saw

a picture of popeye with a strapline

local mariner caught in ransom sting

given two years prison time

& I wondered how that might affect

those bright eyes shining on mine

them or me?

had some idea

of being popular was to hold parties

once a month would host a gathering

music until the early hours

oh how my neighbors loved me

people getting drunk into love

fights on the grass outside

over those new found affairs

old grievances aired under nights light

& then one day you find

all of this to be tedium

boring even

notice they weren’t holding gigs

& if they did

were boring events nobody spoke

of books films writing painting arts

there were no fistfights over anything

everybody politely agreeing to disagree

& you take a minute

bend the knee

is it them

or is it me?

for paints

I had some old felt pens

cheap & thin transparent in hue

almost the colors of moonlight

my paper was ancient yellowed wallpaper samples

found in the free bin at the decorators shop

there on the corner between the pub

& the Asian grocers who gave grey wrapping

that I used as portfolio paper for poems

I had biro pens salvaged from the bookmakers

the short kind designed for quick hands

& then to be discarded

I painted on an ancient piece of scrap board

all the names of the loves in my life

from first crushes to hips in the night

then in biro the rooftops

slates, tiles, chimneys, tv aerials

the places I was living of

if not living in

& amongst all of this poverty

I was inspired by this defeat

to create only for me

thankfully

none of those paintings exist now

nor do the poems of my despair

some I spat out at soirees

sad one day exhibitions for such souls

but all of this is gone now

& I am pleased with that

because none of those

can define me now