Girl with a black eye

saturday afternoon

sitting at the bar

waiting

& his girl walks in

sits next to me

says he’ll be here in a while

& I notice then

she has a big black eye

I raise an eyebrow

she misinterprets this

points at a beer tap

one of those please

so I buy her a beer

as every man in the place

leers wild at me

even the barman jeers

as he puts her drink down

was it him?

no she says all quiet

but he’s not convinced

neither is anybody else

& I don’t mind fighting

for the things I’ve done

said I was gonna do

but this looks like

I’m heading for a kicking

so I order more drinks

soften the bruises to soothe

just then he pops his head in

we still going fishing?

I call him in

order him up a drink

say to the barkeep

this is her man

look after him eh?

I need to step outside

for a minute or two

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

feel at home

just a boy

striking out for the first time

not knowing the rules

the miles I pursued

chasing after girl women

who might make me

feel at home

if I had a penny for every mile

I could buy me those red shoes

click the heels take me there

have gained something more

than these blues

unendowed by love found

a friendly nip from an older dog

they come for you early

he was telling me

no breakfast on release day

take you out of the general population

to the release area

do everything in reverse of intake

except the shower & the spread cheeks

return your clothes

which now seem strange ill fitting

like the life you will try to return to

take you slow through metal gates

to decompress leave inside life behind

though the pattern of those days

never goes completely ever

& then open the last door

say off you go son try not to return

& you step through into free sun

which only your mind has touched

in a long while

& you hope she is there to meet you

& she is even if she is no longer

the same girl you once knew

& you hug kiss her let her know you’ve

missed her

& go off to try & start over everything

once you had

begin again

& that will be hard to do no how hard matter the try

you’ve been case hardened

quenched deep in a difficult cutting desperate fire

& she has ached for her lover her friend

spent her nights in her own ways

no need to talk with you anything she did

wanted to do

& what you need to try out now

is to start over like you were both new to this

no history to amend

& no matter how hard you work

there is a difficult history between you

you may be snatched away again

& when you part it is less than as friends

& the struggle then

is to avoid the bitterness from mistakes

only you made

try to become the better person

again

how it begins

I had the girl gone blues

& they were offering free talking cures

I arranged for the fella to come

but of course forgot

it was around ten knock at the door

I was kinda dressed got off the chair

let the dude in he was prim

ghost white blue suit tie briefcase & glasses

kept eyeing my orange juice

is that just OJ?

yeah sure you want one?

he politely declined but never took his eyes off

& I told him about my girl gone blues

hoping to get another perspective

another mans take if you like

but that OJ bugged him blind

we met the next week same time

I made sure I did not forget

this time I had water in a tall glass

is that just water? he asked all prissy

sitting in my rooms suit tie fat plastic briefcase

so I offered to throw him out

I think you got the wrong notions fella

I’m looking for a great idea

on how to stop picking the wrong women

get myself sorted in the head

ok ok he said lets talk about beer

how much do you need?

& now I like to think

my shoe left a print in that prim backside

as he shot through the door

writing in his notes: anger issues too

She was the kind of girl

worked in bars

slinging beer & good looks

hoping to hook the right man

& all the time I knew her

she never did

though she met plenty

of mr. wrongs

what she never liked

she said

were the guys giving a line

then asking:

am I wasting my time?

she hated those guys

would turn cold & her back

& to be fair

all the time I knew her

I never knew where I stood

was I a friend

a potential something else?

until I too got the shoulder

just a thought

I said

If all the guys who don’t ask

turn out not to be mr. right

then maybe one of the guys

that do

could be?

Girl could sing

I’d just taught a morning class

was taking a slow walk home

there in the early sun

& she fell in beside me

began talking of the lesson just gone

was a pretty young thing

all light bright & yearning

& I was thinking life to come

invited me come see her animals

rats mice & skinny rabbits

all mixed up scampering

big cage there under the tree

asked me politely if I wanted

anything more?

& I had to refuse kindly as I could

she not knowing

I never fuck my students

‘cos after that

everything

gets misunderstood

she was there at the next class

smiling sweetly bright & light

then never came back

last I saw her late one night

singing Gershwin in a café

that girl sure could sing

summertime

the crowd loved her clapping wild

she saw me then with my girl

& laughed with her eyes

but there was no sweet smile

to go with