I told the hungry stranger
That he could spend the night
In the hay barn, where I pointed
He said he’d hoped as much
As I gave him the eggs
And a warm cup of tea.
He asked if I had a cigarette
But I hadn’t one to my name
“Thought I’d try,” he said
“You don’t look like much of a smoker.”
Living as a bachelor
I kept a pretty clean house
The dog kept me in order
If ever I let things slip too much
My father had made sure that I understood
What it meant to have gravitas
As a man, the responsibility
Of keeping my ethics strong
And my morals rich,
A keen sense of duty to myself
My community, and to do the right thing.
Who’s got that hat on the floor?
Someone’s burning at the other end
Smoke trails and it’s begun
For the last of the cobblestones have shattered
Into night’s mystery, coo-coo, coo-coo.
Though one long sidewalk dance
Let it be called a clean romance
Cigarette’s burning down some more
Her eyes still singing forever in implore.
Judged like the colour of pure milk
A canvas rolled into the corners ilk
While every patron danced around the room,
Spilled wine and tossed off shoes
And pearls upon every hearted romance,
As art, given at most likely chance.
It was late, early as the birds wake. The sun making it’s trajectory project through blind slits that tickled my nose and ruffled pure white sheets that smelled of everything I had ever dreamed. I wished I had worn my own button up so she could wear it, cotton thoughts underneath the purest thoughts I could believe, her ear lobe dangerously close to my sanity I buried deep into the sleepy eyes she wiped away.
She was business and I was coffee on Sunday morning. Her ancient wooden bowls with carved and stained mosaics sat on bare shelves between three curiously new vinyl records I had yet to identify or spin, so my bare feet sadly ripped spaces beside this cocoon to leave invisible heat scores on a treasure hunt around pieces of clothing that each had still alive memories attached, each a little puddle of our reserve that began as we stepped towards our island.
As the needle scratched dangerously towards the first note, it was the crackling that trumped even her cigarette into casual, I spotted her pinstripe skirt, now draped across the wicker chair underneath a baby blue Fender Telecaster she had plugged into a tiny hand held amplifier to show me what she knew of blues.
I propped myself up with her pillow and through the patio window I saw she was looking at me.
She was nothing but a distant beggar
Dancing wildly on thin ice,
Rickety chainsaw boots scraping sidewalks
Of spare quarters lodged between pebbles
And ‘Hey Mister.’
But who was watching?
Who counted every slow swagger
That climaxed with her sweet promises
And loud exclamations,
That brought wide eyes school boys
Glaring wildly out big window doors.
Who paid attention to her exploits,
Lude and brazen as she was
With a fanny pack packed with fanny.
She held meaning in some cheapskates heart,
Some rumbling bumbler
Who intoxicated himself with used needles
And flattened cigarette butts.
He was two strings for his six string guitar
And knew better then the wide eyed schoolboys.
It is my check into reality moment
My hero’s capacity
My fatale coup with ignorant blinds up,
Two short skips and plastic bags
Street lamps clanging away
To the tune of some bastard child’s nickel
And the corner store is closed now
So cigarettes will have to wait
Until I can find a better reason
To let my keys fall
Into sewers of my memory.
I could write your pages onto sheets of my unkempt bed
Slowly cycling the in-seam with the hem,
And rolling each corner up like a cigarette to smoke slowly
Because love here is so thick it’s impassable;
Between eyes of surrender and a heart of
I’m never letting go.
So I blot my pen into deep white sensories
Circumnavigating each prior night’s creases – expertly –
Until my final stroke has been felt and embraced
As if it were written upon thy own lined back.
The holy roads of checkmate
Lay my English sober
Leaving lions at the gate
Screaming at misshapen strangers
Spitting on this cigarette ridden sidewalk
With stutters and sideways mysteries
That, to my careful eyes
Jogging left and to the right,
I feel empathetically complacent
And take my bishop onward: strong.
This works along the outlier,
A hard gamble with two cigarettes
Dangling loosely in his left hand.
This pulls hard on conscience’s trigger;
Chrome circles and hand stamped VOID
Letting his tight heart
Make shadow puppets on a busy street corner.
This walks home lonely,
Clip-clopping a sweet tap-tap-song out
With rats and harmonized spray cans
Keeping alley cats tempered.
I was caught between a Ford F150 and an overloaded Subaru station wagon,
A family of 6 had stuffed her so tight their hands were all hanging out the windows,
Each with a cigarette loosely dangling there.
I had packed modestly, as usual.
My father had taught me years ago the beauty of a single pair of undies.
My copilot was fanning herself with a rolled up magazine the terminal operator had casually offered her,
Nobody could think straight with such heat.
The huge doberman hanging out in the back of the Ford had it’s tongue rolled out so far it seemed rather comedic to us,
Poor dog was probably suffering back there.
Waiting there was a bustle of excitement to and fro,
Like watching an ant hive;
Some things we just never understand,
Seemingly busyness of humans and ants for no particular reason identifiable.
We waited thirty five minutes there and watched,
Every single one of us in that oversized parking lot,
As the ferry slowly pulled into its parking spot and unloaded a few hundred passengers,
Eagerly anticipating our own turn to single file our way into a large metal box, freshly whitewashed.