Late-night Shopping

Multi-coloured clothes pegs

 
He shivered at my door
And in his hand he held
Multi-coloured clothes pegs which belied
The black around his tired eyes and
The whiteness of the knuckles that gripped them in desperation.

It was his final sales round he said –
As if we might imagine that door-to-door sales of clothes pegs
Hadn’t ended in 1979 with the garish caravans and bridled ponies that brought them.

He was sorry to knock so late.
He knew folk didn’t care to be disturbed after nine,
But it was our last chance for he was off to sell his wares in Orpington tomorrow.
Or was it Neasden?
He couldn’t remember but was concerned we might miss out
On an offer we couldn’t refuse.

He had lap-top screen cleaners too and,
Naturally, zip-lock bags. Everything you might need
At ten o’clock on a Monday evening.

My heart was full that night and
I had already been counting my blessings and taking the liberty
Of counting those of my friends and my loved-ones and
I had held Graham particularly close when we kissed goodbye that morning.

I said that the marker-pens in his bag looked especially lovely
And a large grin split his thin face as his pigeon-chest puffed out
With pride at the goods he had undoubtedly chanced upon
Hours earlier.

They were his favourite and he could certainly do us a deal
If I wanted the lot – although it would be hard to part with such items
At such a price. I had a kind face and it was late and his family was waiting.
For the move to London, I presumed.

I gave him a note, too big for the price, and as I passed it to him
Our fingers touched briefly and in that moment I knew
That he knew and he knew that I knew.
And I hope he knew that I wished him luck.
 

Toe trauma

Stubbed toe

 
You rushed along,
You were too quick!
Your toe stuck out a little bit.

Your foot missed its mark
And caught the frame.
That bloody floor-polish was to blame.

You see toe strike.
You feel sick.
The clock holds back its final tick.

You stare in horror
As time slows down.
The air grows thick and close around.

You see toe crumple
At a monstrous angle.
Bits of nail appear to dangle.

You grit your teeth.
Blood at temple pounds
Blotting out all other sounds.

You know what’s coming
But all stays still.
Can pain be deferred by pure act of will?

A second’s grace
Seems to stretch for hours
As you invoke your superpowers.

But a clock’s second-hand
Won’t long be stayed
And the next minute thereby is now displayed.

As pain explodes
Your tears are streaming.
You’re surprised to note some distant screaming.

One single thought
Now ousts all others;
A piece of sagely advice of Mother’s.

What did she say
When we were nippers?
Do not run, and wear your slippers!
 

Art imitating life imitating art

Phone message2

 
 
The following was written by iPhone next-word text prediction. Punctuation only has been added by human hand.
 

You are a lovely day to be happy with –
The best day ever.
thank him
So happy for your birthday, love.

It is a good night for me and my family
love me
So I hope you’re ok, thanks.
So happy to see your beautiful baby and
thank him
So happy for your birthday, love.
love him and thank him
So happy birthday, love.

Him and I love your music and
thank him
So happy for your birthday.
love me
And I love your music and I hope he is your happy; happy for me.
please love him
So happy for your birthday,
love him
So happy for your birthday,
love me
So happy birthday to me.

A great birthday and a good birthday
And thank the love of love your life.
 

That night’s gonna last forever

mirror-shard

 
You must be so weary of living.
A life in self-service does not make you whole.
When the price of appearing important
Is your soul.

And that life’s gonna drive you crazy and
That life’s gonna get you sold
Down a river whose rapids are stagnant
Pools of mould.

Think twice before you act unkindly.
Reflect that if you turn into fun
The feelings of another person
Have you won?

And that night’s gonna last forever and
That night’s gonna feel so cold.
‘Cause it’s dark inside when you’re lonely,
Feeling old.

Better check your dreams for the future
Will outlive the misdeeds of your past.
For the now is but a fleeting moment
We outlast.

And that dream’s gonna take you over and
That dream’s gonna define you.
Will you shine like a star forever
When it’s through?

So take this jagged piece of mirror.
Hold it up to the tip of your nose.
Do you like what you see or must you flee
What it shows?

And that face is gonna know you a long time and
That face is gonna show what you’ve done.
Start now to rebuild for tomorrow
Has begun.

The last dance

Dancer

 
I didn’t expect that I would die,
I didn’t know I had to dignify
A bid for future, peace, and freedom
With an iron-clad, no-nonsense, water-tight reason
Why I wished to go out that night
And dance away ‘neath cool neon light.

I didn’t know I would become a martyr
Midst clouds of alcohol-scented laughter
That out of a mist of foaming CO2
A cruelly aimed gun would come thrusting through
And excise the heart of the life I had made
A hope for tomorrow gone with each bullet sprayed.

I never had much, just an old battered case
With a misspelled logo set in the wrong type-face.
But I had a picture of those I had left behind
And on the back Te queremos my mother had signed.
In the early days here when things got too tough
I would take it on out and remember the love.

But little by little I made my way,
I got my own place and I earned my own pay.
I made new friends and I learned who I was
Sent half my pay home and was happy because
My future was mine as I saw fit
And I was damn proud of myself, I must admit.

After a while I got a pay raise
5 times what dad earned in my childhood days.
I moved downtown and forgot day-to-day hustles,
Joined a gym, got a plan, and worked hard on my muscles.
Home and away politics were easily dismissed;
Second amendment rights were never high on the list.

So I lived the dream, and dreaming I danced
By freedom, hope, and my boyfriend romanced.
Then at the height of the day and on the cusp of tomorrow
The spirits of night beckoned and summoned I followed.
The choice was not mine; it was the gunman’s blast
That spun me on round as we danced our last dance.

Death versus the town of Went

Death on horseback

When Death comes marauding and swings his scythe
In swathes of violent hues that split the skies,
The airborne pale hooves thundering
And skeletal soul plundering
Bounce off the town of Went and no one dies.

Death hauls in the reins and draws a fiery arc.
From horizon to horizon burns his bloody mark.
His smirk is now a rictus
And his scream is maledictus
As he stalks the town below like a bony shark.

The people beneath walk about and pay no heed
To the shadowy figure looming on his pale-skinned steed.
Their hearts are resolute
And the town hall spire a one-fingered salute.
To wail and gnash and rend their clothes they have no need.

Nowhere in this town can you find a gun.
No hatred of a different-coloured neighbour to turn a knife upon.
Though different creeds there are aplenty
The prison cells are empty;
No one feels the need to just look after number one.

The townsfolk have planted hedges in communal rows
That trace saw-teeth against the sky like sharpened dominoes.
Death swoops down and cuts his arse,
Shreds his shroud on ground-up glass,
Breaks his wrist and twists his neck and bloods his nose.

Without the tools of his trade Death lies unmasked.
His only hope is that sickness complete his morbid task.
But the hungry here are fed,
Their doctors’ bills to all are spread,
And no natural causes are currently forecast.

Across the land fires burn in merry bands
That scorch the earth and boil the seas and glass the sands.
Yet a patch of green remains,
Lazy blue rivers and leafy lanes,
Where the town hall of the town of Went so proudly stands.

You’re the one I want, money!

Igotbills

 
 
 
With apologies to Grease…
 

I got bills, they’re multiplying
And I’m losing control.
For the power they’re supplying
The cost is terrifying!

 
Better earn more, ’cause I need a break
In the best of Monaco’s hotels.
Better earn more, more than a crude-oil Sheikh
To buy this jacket with gold lamé lapels;
And the matching earrings won’t buy themselves.

You’re the one I want
You are the one I want
Oh Oh Oh, money!
You’re the one I want
You are the one I want
Oh Oh Oh, the one that I need
Oh yes indeed!

I got pipes, the seals are leaking,
And my roof is pouring rain!
I got chairs whose springs are peeking
And my bum will never be the same.

Better earn more, ’cause I have expensive taste;
Pâté de foie gras washed down with Krug Champagne.
Better earn more, every year I have my boobs replaced
And my face pumped with polyurethane;
It doesn’t last, but numbs the pain.

You’re the one I want
You are the one I want
Oh Oh Oh, money!
You’re the one I want
You are the one I want
Oh Oh Oh, the one that I need
Oh yes indeed!

Ne me dis pas

Extinguished candle

 
 
Ne me dis pas que je t’aurais aimé.
Ne me dis pas que j’aurais pu te retrouver.
Jure qu’entre nous ça n’aurait jamais pu se transformer
En un amour qui durerait plus que le temps d’une pensée d’été.
 
 
 
Cache à moi les maux que je t’aurais infligés.
Fais comme si mes attentions manquantes jamais ne te manqueraient.
Invente un monde où l’invention servirait
À séparer un rêve enfantin d’une réalité de banalités.

Recommence à vivre à toute allure
Une vie d’espoir dépourvue des engelures
Qu’apporte seul un baiser froid de brûlante nature
Qui ne se différencie guère d’une vive morsure.

Avant qu’on ne se connaisse dans toutes nos faiblesses,
Au lieu de commencer mieux vaut qu’on cesse.
Sans même croiser nos regards au-dessus de notre défunte jeunesse
Permets que nos mains se touchent, se saisissent, se laissent.
 

So Long, My Love

Free bird

So long, my love. The world can’t wait to meet you.
Love tires, enough, and they all so want to complete you.
I knew you then when all was well in our ken.
And I see now how it was time not our love that was broken.
 
 
Take care, of you. As I did when you were sleeping.
Please just slip through. My grip is weak when I’m weeping.
In a state of alarm I did harm keeping you safe in my arms.
You should have flown alone and painted the sky with your charms.

Now go, my dear. I have no right to hold you.
Be strong, don’t fear, it’s all just as I’ve told you.
You thought me kind, mind, all I said was to blind.
Now please fly free, see, I am there close behind. 

Under the duvet

Under the duvet
When the world is too much
And your drive has been driven,
When you’ve tired of the rush
And no more damns can be given,
When your snowman is slush
And Santa’s sleigh has been ridden,
There’s just one place that you stay,
Hidden under the duvet.

Its fabric is warm
And its crevasses dark.
You won’t hear the storm
Nor the song of a lark.
There’s no need to perform,
No feat to bench-mark.
There’s no wrong thing that you say,
Hidden under the duvet.

So grab a torch and a teddy-bear
And a well-thumbed book.
Block the door with a chair,
Take the phone off the hook.
Leave your cares elsewhere,
Thumb your nose, cock a snook.
Draw a veil over to-day
With me under the duvet.