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Borrowed Lines and Spare Time

Hey there, strangers smiling at the bar, And hey there, barman in behind. You're a little more familiar now, And I'm okay, yeah, I'm just fine, I'm just sipping on my stout And chasing away the minutes and hours Long before you call closing time, Yeah, closing time, but for now it ain't that late, I'm just Tom who sips and Waits For my very sweet companion, For a lady who listens to Lou Reed And Leonard Cohen, my partner found, She's late, not lost, She'll be dressed in black and polka dots And she'll take me away, we'll leave here, yeah, But for now, hey, I'm waiting for my gal.

In The Lodge

It's hard to believe It's been six years, If I'm correct in My reading Between vague lines   And if there's any truth Behind the icons Red on blue Atop the screen In the Social Network, Since we shared A moment that should Have been forbidden By all the usual standards And the rules Expected of friends or exes. But despite passing time I still Cannot help but recall The thrill, the elation Of how it felt, extreme, Not because it May have been wrong But because it Was electric and exciting, And despite the years That have passed since And the lingering fact That it Should never Have happened At all With you Too close a friend And me Grieving, And believing that you Were taken too, Despite that, tonight I remember you well, And me drunk under lights, A cheap line, Pressing our lips, Seconds of time, And then never A hint Of anything else.

Climbing the Wall

I have known fear, I must confess, Yes, I have been afraid To visit him And get to know the world As he had seen it For reasons obvious, Of course, But also more obscure More selfish More vain, Being concerned that My efforts would merely Pale in contrast to his, That I would Simply be The poor relation Who does no more Than ape the Genius Of a previous Generation, That maybe I just miss the point, The crux of this craft, In ways He knew naturally, Made look easy. Fear there was, too, That I would be A copy-cat, That I would Steal his style, Try to mimic All his best verses Or produce No more than tributes And carnival mirror Images, Despite the contradiction That I show No such reverence To those names Of great renown Who moulded and shaped me In the early days Of this lonely Apprenticeship. And there are Common details That I cannot escape: Each of us liked To take our name In its translation, Loved to see The places where Old tradition Lives on, Dabbled In the same vocation

Budapest

"Do not ask me for charity now: Go away until your bones are clean." (Fleur Adcock, from 'Advice to a Discarded Lover') The Hoarder's curse Struck again today When a misplaced memento Reappeared and dared To poke its head up From its hiding place And scattered memories And feelings all over And made a mess. I tried to catch them, Control and gather them Back into my pockets, Tried to hide them all with The scrap of paper ticket From an almost forgotten date, Buried them again under Rubbish and vain layers Of regret and hate

Buried

I was told once or twice in my teen years About copies of chapbooks and local Journals that must still survive somewhere, Proof filed away with scribbles, notes and pages, The private and the published words Of a talented and tortured poet, One young man immortalised and remembered Among voices preserved in parchments, Tales from a decade before my time, The literary legacy of a waning century. These days I try to gather the works Of a bright emerging generation And horde them, safe in a cardboard box, Save that some might be forgotten, The sort of stanzas that might not make it To the library shelves and archives, Treasures kept for rediscovery In some unprophesied circumstance And stored with my own written contributions Whatever meagre value they may have.

Two Windows

Who can say what way a poet's mind works Or if, indeed, there is a common trait That links the minds and hands of diff'rent folks Aside from wishes that we try to date In carefully arranging pictures, words, In separating chance or luck from fate? With all our tongues and codes and styles of talk, Different backgrounds, unique sense of place, Perspectives on a great spectrum of dark And light, all textures, hues, and shades, What ties us all yet lets us make a mark That sets voices apart upon the page? How can two sets of eyes see the same things And yet within find always new meanings?

Checking Mirrors

Real fast food: Porridge with peanut butter, One hundred and thirty Kilometres per hour And coffee in a cheap flask Quickly getting cooler. Motorway mornings, Foot on the accelerator, Breaking fast behind the wheel, A meal fit for a commuter.

Playing With Fire

There is something so Satisfying in stoking The ashes of a dying fire, Not in some metaphorical Or symbolic sense, But very real comfort In the welcoming warmth, Or the gorgeous orange glow Of hidden embers Flaring like favourite memories Ready to live again With the right fuel and fresh air, The naive thrill of Playing with danger, The power in knowing All that you have burned And what you could yet destroy, Erase, hide away, Scattering the remnants Through the gaps in the grate, A quick cosmetic cleaning Of the fireplace, Just dust left to smoulder underneath, Hidden behind the bars of the guard.