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

other peoples’

hey you know a bit about computers

can you look at this for me

& usually its granny

knowing nothing of internet exploder

the flies on firefox

& you look

do a clean

check for unexpected installs

& later a friend asks

much the same

but then

comes the dreaded secret porn file

bringing with it pop ups

hidden files

attachments

& other peoples’ porn

is not like your own

theirs has hidden hang-ups

secret twists & kinks

so very unlike your own

& both of you redden slightly

now holding the burn of shame

& tomorrow

forever

this will not be talked of again

poets as persons of suspicion

why do you write?

where do you get your inspiration?

who is your muse?

do you have a special pen, book, time, place?

don’t you ever write about me!

will you write about me?

what do you write about?

can’t you write a screenplay?

& earn some real money

are you writing a book?

why do you write all the time?

can you your make your words rhyme?

what do you do in that little room?

is it an illness?

its an illness with you!

its all you ever do

obsess about the past

present

now

trying to get it down

why aren’t you out earning a living?

taking me out

having a good time

not sitting staring into space

clacking on a keyboard

Go read Whitman, Byron or Keats

Mick plays in his band

got the HH amp

Rickenbacker

Gibson & Strat

sometimes they get a bar gig

& the man he’s happy with that

sure, he says, was a time

we made recordings

sent them to a man

‘cos that industry is built like that

who might’ve made us huge

but now we play together

& when our timing is good

never gets better than that

& he gets it too

when I tell him

somebody writes me

says they don’t get what I write

& I say go read Whitman, Byron or Keats

I’m not part of that system

I write what seeks me out

putting down my own lines

& sure, there was a time

I sent them to a woman

‘cos the publishing industry

is nowadays built like that

who might’ve made me huge

but now when I sit alone

my chair in this cluttered

one windowed room

looking out on another wall

& my timing comes together

nothing gets better than that

look back at the line

& you put it down

look back at the line

& think

today I got it right

said what I needed to say

nothing less

& any more

would’ve been too much

it is done

& then the next day

the itch comes

did I say it right?

put the words in a way

to not be misunderstood

misinterpreted that way

& you put it down

look back at the line

& think

maybe today

I got it right

said what I needed to say

nothing less

& any more

would be too much

it is done

still say

Its nice of you to ask

but

I don’t know how any of it

works either

it used to be me

a pen

notebook

bits of paper

against the world

maybe my cushion

anchor or was it

balloon

while

I watched the regurgitators

recycle puke

consider the form

argue over meter

rhyme riche

pauvre

and still say

fuck all

about anything to

anybody

Tell me

she says

with the husk of love

still deepening her voice

tell me of you

your wants

loves

lusts

desires

fears & joys

& you want to give

be part of this

giving small details

snippets

bite sized pieces

of you

hoping that next time

when the rage takes her

they will not come spewing back

but they do

& later she will share

your shames

wishes

hopes & dreams

with the mediocre

to snicker over

as she works

from bore to bore

bar to bar

not caring

she has killed

the professor

was a decent enough chap
to come around to tell us
how we were doing the poetry
all wrong
he’d lay out the rules
I think he even had charts
& bits of old masters’ work
to illustrate his illustrious points
& we ‘the river street ranters’
would sit back & suck on a few
while he did his bit
as that was our rules
everybody got to read
sing
or spaff whatever it was needed
spaffing
we would applaud
even terry’s rotten poem about his sausage
got that
& then it would be time for the next
our stuff was not for the great English literature
most of the time it wasn’t even
for each other
it was about getting the words
the line
out
seeing
hearing
how the words were
sung out loud
the professor knew that
but he had his thing
much as we had ours

5a.m.

standing in the cold
breath clouding
last words
smokes
before we leave for home
the half lit world
just starting to stir
as we begin
to think of sleep
the night shift
is a hazy world
of in-betweens
never quite getting
the day
living like others
our hazy camaraderie
begins to break
we nod
in deference
to the work we made
stunts we pulled
games played
on each other
in the night before
to get through
the pain
that is working
while our loved
ones sleep
say goodbyes
and
head back
to our homes
rat holes
coffins
never to see
the light
like citizens do.