needed a guy

drive the truck

be around for the nurses

late night needle exchange

dark parts downtown

swapping out

needles swabs syringes

sterile water cotton balls

no questions

on the one for one

tho’ you suspect the man

is getting guns for his buying crew

help the supply line along

& I was fine

finding spots away from the blue

places for the queue to be

got to hand out the condoms

a thin plastic dam or two

paper for rehabs

phone lines places to go to

& I had to leave

my time had come

the night the voice called

hey there Ben is that you?

& we hugged like old friends

the man who’d slung shit

back in the day to my girl

the one I’d left

when she couldn’t make a day

get through without a haze

see me standing clear

in the sun

wanting to pull her through

re read

I re read the book

& I don’t know

what I read the first time

but it wasn’t this

mebbe I was in a bad place

some sad face looking

out for the hook

& now

I found the humour

the sly asides

where before

I must have read

just full on

getting through the pages

searching for clues

I guess that’s what

all readers do

read what they want to

the sickness

when the sickness takes hold

bites to the bone

there was nothing I would not do

to keep you close

nights wondering where you were

but knowing deep down

& it don’t help to know

right now I was the clown

I’d sworn never to be

seeing others torn into two

wanting to keep on this half life

half love forever chained

to somebody who doesn’t love you

in the way they swore to be

& it don’t help to know

you know how this will end

being foolish is little different

from being the fool

who doesn’t know what is coming

tomorrow the next bend

this sickness will drive you to

escarpment

the years I lived slept

autumn beginning of winter

to the rising tone of the trees

above me on my green hill

the wind whipping through

a gentle roar that never grew

to a full howl or decline

until the snows came

bringing their hush

stoppage to the day

the wind the dark night

all now in half light or blind glare

foot paw prints that appeared

disappear

of white ghosts gone to sleep

not in peace

I sat down

where the great man wrote

to take a look

read from his book

& heard what he heard

saw what he saw

& I understood the words

had already fallen

for the idea

some time ago

felt the sense of place

exit from cities

foul humanity

dirt squalor disgrace

but I was not the only pilgrim

others had been before

& no doubt more

will come

like those who leave their litter

bottles cans paper plastic

homage corrupts if the wanderer

comes for bragging rights

not in peace