shepherding cats

I’d wake about 6 to go to work for 8

with the room full of smoke

& she’d be sitting there

cigarette in jand

chewing her cheek

y’ok babe? I’d ask

yeah, yeah, I was watching you sleep

you’re such an angelic bastard

lying there eyes closed snoring away

& she’d smile a sweet smile

while I eyed the vodka level

checking the empty beer bottles

working out how long she’d been there

watching me sleep two handed drinking

vodka in one & good beer in the other

I’d shit shower shave get dressed

trying to avoid her eyes those open arms

too many mornings I’d fallen in with her

fucked an hour away to be late again

the boss not understanding

that shepherding cats

had pitfalls traps & snarls for a weary man

& at the end of the working day she might

might not be there in her car smoking

calling you coming this way lover boy?

for us to do it all over again

first the steady drinking vodkas & beers

then a row over something to be sorted

climbing into bed for the make-up sex

trying not to fall asleep as she told me

of her life loves the unrequited unwanted

sordid sad details of people

men who just did not understand

& falling asleep finally

knowing I would be added to the loser list

to wake about 6 for work at 8

the room full of smoke

asking y’ok babe?

this getting older thing

around twelve or thirteen

it feels like it will take forever

until you get to do the exciting stuff

drink drugs cars motorcycles

the sex thing

in five years or less

these things begin to happen

then your twenties arrive

& suddenly

responsibilities you were warned about

begin to be piled on

rent gas electric water bills the job thing

& the pile grows slowly inevitably

the forming long relationships

ending relationships

properly working out the sex thing

your roles plays wants & real needs

& then the thirties become more of the same

but the game/s get/s older quicker

& time goes so fast

& you wonder where

your dreams

have gone

 

routine becomes a thing

if you don’t pay attention enough

it

had become a thing we did

mine for the needs I had

& her?

well

I was never sure

to be straight

she’d never been that happy

much into the whole

dark & dirty business

refused conversations

somehow expected nature

to find fill its boots

we had a routine

work dinner some drinks

tumble into bed

fumble some & sleep

until one night I left the light on

& that exceeded expectations some

caused conniptions

accusations of strange

& it is in those moments

you realize after this

things will never

be the same

what had been love

had become

just another four letter word

like

work

invite

invitation

so many on offer

which to take?

invites to self loathing

so take your pick

in how you can despise yourself

will it be your

drug use

alcohol

gambling

food

attitudes toward men or women

the gender fluid?

your strange sexuality

ways with money

shopping

poor dress sense

weak social standing

awkwardness with others

let us call them strangers

always seeing danger

defying your lived experience

over social media scares

invites to self loathing

it’s a wonder you made it

out of your teens

holding that mad head up

but you did

the sex thing

rolling through towns

I used to know

sweet memories

of janey there judy here

all those susans sally-annes

along the way

thinking how then

how far

I’d go for the sex thing

some of these were loves

some nothing but lovers

wanting but the same as me

not that they’d say that then

though we’d all know in the ends

the tortuous routes taken

buses cars motorcycles

when those broke the thumb

for an hour maybe two

talking our way into the sex thing

making it more in words

than it ever was in lives

none of us made it through

to anything more than a little love

ours the tiny death of moments

in the scheme of our things

& if I think of them fondly

is to forget forever

the thin love that they brung

the sex thing

rolling through towns

I used to know

sweet memories

of janey there judy here

all those susans sally-annes

along the way

thinking how then

how far

I’d go for the sex thing

some of these were loves

some nothing but lovers

wanting but the same as me

not that they’d say that then

though we’d all know in the ends

the tortuous routes taken

buses cars motorcycles

when those broke the thumb

for an hour maybe two

talking our way into the sex thing

making it more in words

than it ever was in lives

none of us made it through

to anything more than a little love

ours the tiny death of moments

in the scheme of our things

& if I think of them fondly

is to forget forever

the thin love that they brung

Being 14

finding

Mondrian

Van Gogh

Dali

& ffs the impossibility of Pablo Picasso

Hemingway

Bukowski

Rimbaud

Hunter S Thompson

& sex

all of everything

mind body spirit

Zen koans

music on the radio

albums in others’ homes

never enough to eat

taking all in with each breath

the world spread as smorgasbord

walking from place to place

feeling the pavement

as the images freewheeled

across the sky

& nobody understanding the why

the boy was how he was

Girl could sing

I’d just taught a morning class

was taking a slow walk home

there in the early sun

& she fell in beside me

began talking of the lesson just gone

was a pretty young thing

all light bright & yearning

& I was thinking life to come

invited me come see her animals

rats mice & skinny rabbits

all mixed up scampering

big cage there under the tree

asked me politely if I wanted

anything more?

& I had to refuse kindly as I could

she not knowing

I never fuck my students

‘cos after that

everything

gets misunderstood

she was there at the next class

smiling sweetly bright & light

then never came back

last I saw her late one night

singing Gershwin in a café

that girl sure could sing

summertime

the crowd loved her clapping wild

she saw me then with my girl

& laughed with her eyes

but there was no sweet smile

to go with

daddy issues

talk to me

talk to me when you do me

sing in my ears

tell me I’m a dirty girl….

& of course you do

anything to get this ship

home to port

rather than languishing

idling in choppy waters

doing what you think is right

& you say

give it to me

give me all of you

who’s your daddy?

& it’s over

she’s heading out the door

while your lips form the wha’for?

I already got one daddy

don’t need no other

& she’s gone

to slide back another time

wanting a different form

sweet things to whisper

& now I’m adrift

had kinda wanted this thing

only to be between us two