had a rant going

fella going on about youth

disrespect today

had the whole hate thing

going on

& I had to ask

being built that way

tell me about your youth

did you have a good time?

& that slowed him some

as he told me of riding bicycles

the girls sleep outs in mountains

campfire drinking nights away

& these kids? I asked soft

it’s the problem of cities

the kids can’t get out

they turn on each other

like rats in a trap

so mebbe more to be pitied

than scorned?

& he turned away from me

could not accept the thought

occluded

as a younger man

eyes on the prizes

I could drink everything

snort it eat it

beyond judgement

occluded

from the possibilities

these things

were not always

in my best interests

clouded from the truth

in the zealous ways

of invincible youth

driven by blood

she remembers me she says

as a rude boy

wanting to kiss take her outside

do rude things there

in the dark

while I vaguely remember her

as one of those wanting dances

drinks to be bought to disappear

at the end of the night

I offer some vague apology

suggest soft as I can

this was driven by blood & youth

could not then articulate my needs

not that I can do that much better now

was offering affection

the only way I knew how

I notice too

she has no soft words

for her own behaviour

in those times

girls who’d seen things

we were restless then

full flush of youth

only ever buying used cars motorcycles

girls who’d seen things

they did not ever want to tell

all of us just expressed from our parents

bosoms or clutches you choose

living on friends floors in cheap rents

caravans sheds cars

knowing that as we could afford

we would move on this was acceptable then

we were restless to be doing

never doing be to be always do

all that unfortunately was to come

after we’d found long term work

girls who had seen done things

they could would talk about

in the better rooms we’d worked our way to

better cars motorcycles stuff on loans

then the babies to anchor our feet

in work places we would much rather flee

I would not want

to see her now

age will surely

have taken its toll

though she swore

her regimen

held her tight to youth

all the benefits

yet to be seen

& if I could

I would instead

imagine her lying on me

under me

in the early morning

holding on to something

we were sure we had

until life took its toll

I would not want to see

what could not be unseen

beauty thinning

fading golden skin

changing to lace

yesterdays drum

Oh god not this again

he wants to sit & reflect

on the wisdom of age

the benefits of thinking rather than doing

without listing the not be able to’s

run a straight line at speed

fuck three or four times a night

& want more

see the horizon clear

not focussing on blind spots to the sides

be awake at 3 a.m.

& not be bothered by this

drink & drink & eat whatever is in front

laughing throughout the evenings

no concerns on the morrow to come

oh yeah

deliver me from reflections such as this

I’d rather still be banging

on yesterdays drum

kid had spots

what’s best to do?

she asked

& I say all serious

y’really want to fix this?

don’t use soap on your face

use cool water

several times a day

let it dry naturally

don’t use a towel

use one side of the pillow once

then turn it over

then wash it

stops the reinfection

keep your hair off your face

give the make-up a rest

oh you’re such a kidder

she says

like you would know

anything

about these things

yeah I said

I never had youth

came straight out the womb

this bitter & twisted old thing

& for a second I swear

there was a narrowing of her eye

as she worked out if this was true

or not

cos I’m such a kidder, y’know?

felt too much

those long years & years

of being highly strung

tuned

pitched to eleven

I felt everything

piercing like hot wire

there behind the eyes

all over my scalded body

my emotions had yet

to acquire a layer of thick skin

get dulled by life

the repetition of pain

fall in love out of love

rinse repeat

trust another get burned

rinse repeat

& nobody got it

I needed medication

of some soft love

to ease the years of transition

between easy boy

& bitter hardened man

that this unceasing pain created

not hammer blows

but care to level out

that harsh living between highs & lows

dizzy peaks sharp troughs

help this yelping cat

booze helped

& the healing herb

& time

time will always deaden anything

including life

Baby sailors

A thousand plus of us

behind high fences

learning our trades

how to live together in tight spaces

looking out for ourselves, others

I don’t need to spell it was hell

a thousand boys aged 15-16

fighting each other to stop from being

bottom of the pile

after three months they gave us leave

& I made the long journey

to what was called home

my room had been repainted

my books were gone

all kiddy toys given away

my steam train rusty in the rain

they had forgotten I was coming

were off out for dinner

dragged me along too

& over that meal took a third of my pay

towards my keep as I was earning y’know

while complaining about the need

for more notice should I return again

I took to the road finding happier places

rough sleeping in hedgerows

taking whatever love came my way

a sailor takes what he can when he can

finding shelter from the rains

all ports are shelters in storms

home becomes where you create it

always the next place further on