Home Town

The evening fog
glows headlight rushing white
in serene yellow streetlight.

Ice forms.

The town,
yet knowing of traffic,
does not hear a between–lorry silence
fill, like a continuity error,

with the engine down of a slowing car,
turning, sloping, stopping
at an ordinary motel.


A cat that doesn’t care
cosies in a window
of homely light,
watching the movement.

No dog barks
its unnecessary warning.

Even the wind is still.


The visitor,
leaving his fussing car,
walks to the motel door.

Thin,
thirty or forty,
straight black hair,
a tidy working suit,
a familiar coat,

he has the stride of tired confidence,
the caution of strange surroundings.


Inside this mock–welcoming place,
he shares mock jokes,
and makes mock laughter,
and buys his night’s
mock home.

He walks austere white corridors
on cold grey carpet
and retreats beyond
a mock–locked door.


He can’t relax;
he can’t watch those television programmes
so familiar elsewhere,

so routine decides
to wash and bathe,
dry and shave,
brush and comb,
and sleep an early night.


It’s great to have a coo and gurgle now
and then; although thank God that I can give
’em back to mum if they should scream and howl,
or stink and do what babies do. To live
a life of dreadful luck from careless thrill,
nine months of getting fat, and growing fright
of things gone wrong, then hospital who fill
you up with drugs and that’s if things go right.
I wouldn’t have the chance of looking good
for months, then there’s the bites and nipple strife,
a smelly child, a screaming stink, that could
not do the simplest thing, and grief for life.
A soul that’s caged, there’s no way that’s for me,
I don’t want such responsibility.

Awoken by the morning light,
“coffee,
where’s coffee?

Oh God,
instant sawdust”,
and long life thumb–pot milk
as sharp as dreaming
someone else’s memories.


Fog,
the weatherman gloats
to stop the country’s rush,
and ice, the weatherman adds:
a threat.

Having no urgency,
and it’s too early for kitchen staff,
the visitor wanders,
opening doors,
finding reflections
in the dance hall


His catching eyes attract as fire in hearth,
alighting on myself a burning lust;
the pub, the people, places, all of Earth,
vanish. I smile. He smiles. My eyes, in trust,
down–turning, blur. I know his psyche hums,
his eyes are bright with life itself. This dare
I’ll take, and him as well: he walks, he comes
to me. And I, I wait for him; to where
we meet and find that private space. His hand,
I shall entice to want, a need to touch,
adore my female style. We talk a grand
unworded stream of wish. In need, as much
in me, I find I dance and flaunt my curves,
and taunt myself as all his life deserves.

Eaten, filled,
the visitor,
he walks the town,
and finds


architectural finesse subjugated
by I’m here me–too shout–out signs,
by redbrick and rotting frame,
by rude commercial of the crude.

Yet the town’s nature survives
above the abject word of merchant promise,
in patterned brick, and chimney stack.


Less crass, a low line bungalow,
an architecture built to say
“honest, its going to be alright”,
the doomed assurances of a surgery.


The doctor said my body’s going wild,
the safest thing to do is to abort:
if I did that, I’d never have a child
again. He told me this is what I ought
to do, and so I told him where to go.
I want to take this chance of giving birth;
he said he thought that’s what I’d say. I know
it is a risk: some mothers bleed to death
because of what I’ve got. He said he’ll keep
an eye on me. It’s strange: I feel I’m like
the rope they strain in tugs of war—I need
to have my child, I want to live a life—
yet I’m relaxed. I’ve made my choice. I’ll ride
these rolling die. God knows I have to try.

Newspaper scanned, forgotten,
magazine thumbed and empty,
crossword incomplete,
the visitor drives.


And of complete control
stops sharp
as a young child,
who’s learnt the how
but not yet the where
of running,
skelters across the road

to be gathered
by her chasing,
fearing,
father.

Sweat.
No blood.


A moment crawls.

Still seated,
the visitor
hears a tyre howl,
a metallic slap,
and is kicked,

and his car
which had stop
now drifts
a helpless drift
towards the gathered child.

The father moves,
my God, they move.
Safe. They are safe.

Stillness.


And shock continues
as a young
thunders out
of the ego–music
lout–mobile,
abuse exploding
anger–faced
arms streaming mania.


A policeman comes,

with strength to quell a dozen tanks, with build
to match, a matchstick man, the constable,
a man to glare the sun back down, he comes
to be control. No dreams, no doubt, the now
of am, in small, in slight, in uniform,
he leads the calm he is:

he,
who walks with Gods who can’t exist,
a man the town has never seen before,
nor ever will again.

With eyes, all bow,
though none know why.


The youth: silent.
No words are said,
for now he knows,
without that shunt
he would have broken
the motherless child.


The visitor,
invaded by relief,
feels triumph
like hot water
washing his soul.


He leaves
shaken,
safe,
into the fog,
into the hills,
unseen.

Only the birds hear
the sound of the driven

finger
snap
mute.

poem

97-99

arts & ego
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