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

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

no filter

I love people!

I love everything about them

the world is all connected

& we are but one

there was more

she was gushing on some

but my ears had gone on ahead

thinking of a cold beer

good book

& some silence to live in

any questions?

brought me back to now

& I was getting to ask

no filter?

excepting those that want genocide

to rule by tyranny

overthrow?

& those that hate

the ‘phobes ‘ists y’know

do you love them still?

but I felt the cold hand

of my companion digging into my thigh

so I shut up & smiled

wrapped in the warmth

felt the guff of all that love

not particularly painful

if unwanted uninvited

something as simple as

slipping into a Sunday afternoon bath

Badedas green water & bubbles

novel fat towel to the side

good glass of Corbiere

heat hot up to my shoulders

easing the tension held there

& then a memory bursts through

I’m two years old

smallest kid in the boys dorm

at the children’s home

& last to go in the bath

that grey going on black puddle

flat reflecting strip light overhead

the nurse forceful & harsh

don’t be a baby get in in!

the water was cool

I’d jump in splash a bit jump out

standing on cold lino’ to dry

on the already used damp thin towel

not a particularly painful memory

but one that surprises in being

unlocked not retrieved for so many years

as I lie cocooned by this hot bath

wondering

why now to deliver this?

posy

between the pages

lying there

an accusation

crushed flat

a tight little blue posy

faded by the bleached paper

the book I was reading

back then

thrust into my hand

one Saturday morning early

with an apology

I behaved badly

I am sorry

& she was gone

running down the street

after my thank you

& smile

a man never forgets

the first flowers given

to him

though tainted

they may be

The book

was an old book

full of great illustrations

those old timey black & whites

full of atmosphere

reeking of age

& I did not want it

just something about

how it was given

slight hesitation

awkward look

it was found

in an old antique shop

while she was away

that last long weekend

& it reminded her of me

she said quietly

the thing reeked of guilt

gift given as poor recompense

for some unkind action

she was usually hard pushed

to pay her way

on a night out

not that she was tight with money

oh no

but this

had cost

& she knew I loved old books

with litho prints

ancient engravature

so it lay between us

open on the table

as I casually asked all

about the weekend

noticing the evasions

gaps & omissions

without wanting to

hearing the unspoken

then I picked the book up

said thank you

pecked her on the cheek

said I had to go

as she began to bluster

we were due out

to meet friends

but I was through the door

book under my arm

feeling the weight

of the guilt dragging me down

heading to the car

& somewhere

other

than there