could not get the happy faces

I understood I needed the money

being beset on all sides with demands

gas electric water tithes on tiles

but I could not get the happy faces

going off to do the work days ahead

each day doing much the same

rinse repeat see you tomorrow same time

living for the weekends to let it all go

hoping thinking there must be

something else to do to get by

the rich people flaunting in the movies

magazines newspapers doing fine

wondering in dreamless nights

how does a body get some of that?

was enough

those summer mornings

waking up to soft mist

water on the window

trying to get everything done

before the sun beats the ground

& the heat becomes just too much

those days you loved me

walking talking doing not much

just the being together

was enough

it’ll come to you

somewhere out in the woods

by the thin river

I found the old man

sitting loose

leaning against a stump

whittling on a piece of tree

he smiled asked of me

you got any water son?

so I settled nearby

I’m making me a stick he told

to help me get out of here

ran out of water

kind of everything really

I thought I was easy

forgot I was no longer spry

the things they don’t tell you

about this getting old

is it all catches up on you

taking an easy walk in the woods

becomes a trial

something life threatening

y’know?

but I was young then

could only smile offer help

he took the water

& fell into step

as we walked out to safety

for him

while for me it was only

to a place I’d been

finding the river

I wanted to drink the water

or was it to cry?

all I know is

I wanted something

to end this dry

thinking over you

you would never again

come by

with your laughter

your loving

help me be satisfied

& this is what life is

each one of us goes

each one of us dies

& I know I told you

I loved you

or how much I tried

& I know

I cannot say this

in your ears

ever again

no matter how I try

walking by the river

thinking in shades

when I walked here with you

a little romance

some sweet summer loving

on a warm afternoon

& I wanted to keep you

but you were afraid to give

& that holding inside

scared of being alone

left me nothing but lonely

oh the irony of sweetness

what one keeps hidden

gets you overthrown

& the water slides by

I can see gin clear

the sand & stone on a rocky bed

that was us then

& I wonder

hope you have grown

found your way

to the sea

slight ritual

burning photographs

I could not quit you

many times I tried

& the last time

I burned your photograph

slight ritual

down there at the beach

ashes to the water

take you away

way out of reach

& pleased to say

all of that worked

all I have of you now

are pictures

half ideas in my head

time can never bleach

Two years Quarteria Algarve

we were walking slow in the heat

there on the edge of town

& through the weeds reeds

I saw a small square pool

blue & colour tiles looking cool

lets take a look a minute

we tottered off the pavement

onto rough sandy track

& there lay a small quiet water

framed in handmade tiles

showing this pool was for travellers

provided for pilgrims along the way

we sat for a while

enjoying the flat quiet waters

soaking our heated feet

& then headed into town refreshed

two years later we walked again

the town had stretched further out

the pool was still there

encroached by houses now

the beautiful tiles all taken away

& it is true

you can never go back

soak your feet in the same river

same pool twice

which was it to be please?

fifteen alone & lost

I found myself stuck

late in the mountain night

in Snowdonia

the cars had stopped

walking had ceased to get me anywhere

as my steps slowed in the dark

I slipped over a dry stone wall

huddled in a corner against the wind

& slept dreaming of giants a giantess

gold hair cascading on her shoulders

promising better days to come

if I would drink the water there

& woke in the dawn to silence

but for the crows cawing in the distance

I was powerfully thirsty with nothing

climbed back over the wall

put my thumb to the first truck

he stopped then asked me: which is it then?

I had no answer no understanding

he drove me into the local town

& drove away smiling shaking his head

as I went to buy water Dwr yr Wyddfa

drinking sitting on a low grey wall

later as I stuck my thumb out to leave

the same truck stopped again

& as I climbed inside he asked again

which is it then?

& as I shrugged he told me

of Idris the giant sitting gazing the stars

there on his mountain Cadair Idris

& if anyone slept the night on his mountain

in the morning they wake either

a poet or a madman

so which was it to be please?

no sense of humor the germans

it is said the Germans have no sense of humor

it was late afternoon late summer

I’d finished with the group I’d been working with

& one kindly found me a room over a bar

dropped me off in the Altplatz Dusseldorf

I sat for a while on the great steps watching the barges

huge long boats carrying ? up & down this immense river

then slowly made my way back to the bar

sitting I looked over the row of pumps

decided to work my way along them sample as many as I could

ein bier bitte  I asked as I tapped the pump furthest away

& a small black beer arrived in front of me & gratefully drank that

as I ordered another next tap down a group of twelve arrived

to sit outside on the high table there in the evening sun

one of the dozen had a small silly hat on must be the birthday boy

I thought as they sat him end of the table & sang a song to him

beers were ordered & brought out with samples of sausages

then a shout of Schnapps! went up & the waitress found a tray

she looked at me & winked as she filled one shot glass with schnapps

then filled the other eleven with water from the tap in front of us

these she took out carefully making sure who got water got schnapps

& as the next cry of Scnapps! went up did this eleven more times

the birthday boy could not understand why he was getting drunk

while nobody else seemed the worse for wear

& it is said the Germans have no sense of humor

but you weren’t there man

heading south

you can tell them going along when it gets hotter

you’re letting water out the whole time

so you gotta let lots of water in

have a liter bottle the whole two pints

& when that empties fill it up again

keep the cycle going else you start making poor choices

& they nod along to the sage advice

wondering just when it was you became crazy

so you do it yourself to make the show

& of course like all good advice gets left by the roadside

two days in you find one stuck staring at the gas station cashier

unable to tell her which gas pump he wants to pay for

you sort that for him & now he resents you

for being clever & knowing Spanish Cuatro for four

he’s thirsty he says reaches out for cold beer

make it water you say soft we got another hundred to ride

oh fuck you & your water he says I need to drink

as you walk out into the sun saddle up & go

he drifts further & further back as you wonder in those miles

just where & when it was you turned into a nagging granny

herding this ragged pack of unthinking thirsty cats

that night he won’t eat sits with beer & chocolate bars

& in the morning complains his ass is bleeding

& lord you want to tell him why but know clear

that will only start a fight & wait a while knowing what will come

I think I might turn back he says I’ve had enough of this sun

& you think back to the colder happier northern nights

you all sat together looking at maps sorting this run

& the friendship you had there once is over

as poor decisions grow into bad decisions over not enough agua

comprende?