hunting for coffee

you’ll find me riding

the right white line

avoiding the broken ruts

left by trucks

the wake of big rigs

throwing me around

like a rag doll

eleven hundred miles done

& a hundred plus more

to come

trying not to stare

at the girls on white plastic chairs

& wondering

about the life that led them there

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crimes of my mother

the first big one

was running away

with the tv repair man

leaving her kids behind

the second was leaving me

with the memories

of her frightened terror’d face

& with the people

who gave those to her

they hoped I had no memories

of her & those times

but I did

there were other crimes

but these are the ones

that matter most

in the life of a frightened kid

& there never came an apology

any understanding from her

that they were the same to us

as to her

& to make the point clear

she ran away again

no forwarding address

no phone

& she was dead five years

before I found out

benign neglect

They finally killed the old bull

not on a sunny summer afternoon

with a sword & cheering adoring crowds

reflecting honour & courage

but on a cold January

of benign neglect in a hospital

he’d been left to die in

hips broken after falls

one & then the other

deposited there by his second wife

(the first ran away from his rage)

of forty years deciding

she could not do care for him

though she did visit after bingo

hair appointments & spending his pension

a slow lonely death not in glory

as befits a strong willed man

the worms in his head taking away

anything he had left of his life

& when he did finally die

his workmates formed a guard of honour

though none knew after fifty years

of working side by side

he had any children until

that last day

the reading

I don’t enjoy it much

saying the words out loud

that I found in my little space

out on my own

that I crumble

under the cold stare

in hot rooms

with my low voice

now unused to speaking loud

& worse it was for free

though they promised

free beer at the bar

& at a fiver a pint

I thought it best

to earn my keep

there was quiet for most of it

with an occasional yeah!

or an oh no!

did he really just say that?

& at the end

they gave me a bottle

of decent red

some decent applause

& I learned that what I read

is not always

what they heard

wild

the wild girl

or once was

does not know

what to do anymore

with her hair

her life

once like her

it was wild

flying in the wind

unruly unkempt

free

& now

over a latte

or is it to be

a skinny white Americano

she will decide

to leave all that behind

& get a bob

the kind of hairstyle

that better reflects

a woman of her

years

told us all

late one night

fella rushing in

eyes wide & wheeling

told me

told us all

love is a dog from hell

& I believed he’d been there

as something

had made a mess of his teeth

& then I realised

he was using

somebody else’s words

to appear bright

intelligent even

& I asked right out loud

who let this stray cat in?

& he disappeared

as quickly as he arrived

but at least

my words were

my own