‘love, patiently’

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this fragile sparrow of a song,

unassuming, candy apple gray,

resonates with the lingering

and oh so bittersweet

poignancy of a dusty valentine

or a faded and dessicated rose

discovered in a broken shoebox

on the back of a shelf of your childhood.

sent by a disregarded high school beau,

his name forever inscribed in your vanity,

whose unrequited passion you now recall

with desperate fond and foolish nostalgia.

it chokes you with the lump-in-your-throat

lost loveliness of a little-known track

off a seldom played cult album of long ago.

there are times when you wish

everything were so easily forgotten.

now passion and rejection are memories

from when you used to feel

and you can scarcely remember

the girl you used to be.

Love this album, Nobody’s Fool, by Shakey Graves. Downloaded on Shakey Graves Day in February. Immediate favourites were Wolfman Agenda, Seeing All Red and Pay the Road. Seventh track Love, Patiently was more of a slowburner but has now breached my defences, impregnated my consciousness, set up a camp in the undergrowth and invited its friends round.

hitman

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no 47

 

 

 

 

dismissed with a flicker of the eyelids,

a transfer away,

attention no longer required.

he wears assassin’s gloves,

a sliver of pale wrist between

black leather and sleeve.

 

grants you one of his

slow-motion blinks,

the ones that speak volumes,

meaning that slices to the bone.

discipline is what rules him

but the rules are not of his making.

 

lets his trigger finger do the talking

world-weary disdain on his innocent

child’s face, blank, without guilt,

beyond remorse,

prettily flecked with the

blood of the dead.

 See here and here for more on Tim Olyphant.

patience

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drugs

in the pharmacy

I recognise the

patience-worn-thin face

another woman is wearing.

I know she’s steeled herself

to stillness for a spell,

perched uncomfortably

on the edge of the torn vinyl bench

across from the counter.

but the amenable idleness

of the gossiping clerks

soon drives her to her feet

and she paces the aisles in

a restless aimless fashion

slowburning to caged-animal frenzy.

 

whatever we’re waiting for –

antibiotics or antidepressants,

sedatives or laxatives –

we’ve long-suffered to the end of our tether,

eventually incubating the edginess

of junkies jonesing for a fix.

each asinine comment or tired version

of what passes for conversation

in tiny unbothered by other people’s

time constraints high street chemists

another irritant, a burr in our tender places,

all kinds of acid to our peace of mind,

when nothing progresses our cause

or expedites dispensing.

down and out

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beale street deadend

I liked you from the start

with your bashful smile

and grime-caked nails,

your nervous hands clutching

each other in muted panic

whenever strangers loomed too close,

whether bearing alms or malice,

to your sacred safe place

by the old subway entrance.

 

I didn’t know but I should have guessed

the thirstiness that hits you hard

late afternoons when the bars’

dark interiors beckon.

how it sets off a clarion in your skull,

your palms start to tingle and sweat,

and a purpose possesses you,

swallows you whole.

 

you settle easy for a spell,

briefly anaesthetised,

disconnected from the world’s clamour

by the clear cool contents of a glass.

a moment of clarity

when it all makes sense

and then, before I know it,

you’ve become someone else

and I’m as unnecessary

as I’d always suspected.

 

Photo of Beale Street, Memphis from Belinda

instamatic

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instamaticthe sunset like a painting

at the end of the school field

[since developed into housing],

a boy screwing up his face

in a cub scout uniform

[now father to a ten year old],

your sister uncannily like

a popstar in rather bad drag

poised on the front porch

ready to step into her future

[some things never change],

the front grille of the old estate car

[you cried when it went for scrap],

poses and stances and

awkwardness captured,

moments in a life more ordinary than most

and a sad parade of so much that is lost.

stray

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buster in newbury

we play with stray mongrels

all eager in spells of sun between snowfall

in rough and ready parking lots

across the freeway from diners

whose customers send back postcards

to pin to the wall to remember them by.

 

eat ‘homemade’ chilli and packet crackers

powdery and brittle,

with iced water in tall red glasses

of the indestructible kind

and hot chocolate topped with

whipped cream that turns it cold.

 

unashamedly bright eyed and desperate to please

we stop to wonder whose dogs are these

to pat and praise and stroke and click

our tongues in the sides of our cheeks.

they are all tail-wagging joyousness

and overwhelmed by our mere presence.

 

left out in all weathers, their eyes

still brim with hope and love

and a longing inside that can’t be named

to be valued and cherished once again,

our brief attentions a blessing

they simply did not count on.

 

did they once belong in someone’s backyard?

come running when their names were called?

could anybody measure their devotion?

reckon it up when it’s never-ending

like a hot spring welling up

from subterranean depths?

 

now they cock their heads to

deliver a gaze of plain adoration,

lick the hands of strangers,

with kind words for them,

and time to run and chase and play,

but only pausing, passing through.

The picture is of Buster at Dogs Trust Newbury, who needs a new home. Buster loves his walks and playing in the garden. He is great with people of all ages but sadly dislikes other dogs and cats. Buster will suit an experienced Terrier household with a secure garden and where he can be walked in quiet areas and not need to encounter too many other dogs. Five years old, Buster is a lovely friendly chap who has strong breed traits. For more information, please contact the centre directly: https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/…/fi…/new~~~~~n~/1125418/buster.

overprotected

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you recognise

the grave gaze of a child

who’s spent too long indoors

and not tumbled wild

and hollering down

a country hillside.

 

has instead turned inward,

nursing undefined allergies

through a feverish summer

of solitude

and confinement,

reading library books

beyond his age bracket

till his mind knew more

than his body ever would.

 

pale as water in an opaque glass

against the sun burnished

sturdy limbed vigour

of the boys from the neighbourhood.

their grazed knees and scarred elbows

talismans of rites of passage,

earned over long daytimes

of companionship and quarrel.

he sees them through a mullioned window

indistinct images from another life.

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