where now

Caesar knew of this

where now

I stop to look

see if I can see

the kingfisher

fronds wailing in the water

flies hovering the shine

minnows tight to the bank

he would know

the same as I do

this river is not the same

as the one I played along

& in

as a child

yet it is the same

& ever will be

so

Bilbao

looking down

from the mountain above

on Bilbao

the river snaking through

in from the sea

the docks are going now

when I first came

thirty years ago

these were dark dangerous places

herri batasuna graffiti on all walls

where you went only

if you were on a mission

for a score

a whore

for blood

& now

they are building apartments

housing for rich people

where warehouses once stood

it’ll come to you

somewhere out in the woods

by the thin river

I found the old man

sitting loose

leaning against a stump

whittling on a piece of tree

he smiled asked of me

you got any water son?

so I settled nearby

I’m making me a stick he told

to help me get out of here

ran out of water

kind of everything really

I thought I was easy

forgot I was no longer spry

the things they don’t tell you

about this getting old

is it all catches up on you

taking an easy walk in the woods

becomes a trial

something life threatening

y’know?

but I was young then

could only smile offer help

he took the water

& fell into step

as we walked out to safety

for him

while for me it was only

to a place I’d been

too seriously

oh man

we spent some years together

growing up getting drunk

doing what we could for fun

& then you got take yourself

all serious doing some

you felt important job

& we went along

for a little while more

until the sunny day

we went to the river

flew out on the rope

just hanging there

& you swung out

hadn’t reached high enough

hit the bank with a great bang

& you never forgave us

for laughing right out loud

& that’s how

we remember you now

not the great kid good ideas

but the growed up man

who took himself

too seriously

finding the river

I wanted to drink the water

or was it to cry?

all I know is

I wanted something

to end this dry

thinking over you

you would never again

come by

with your laughter

your loving

help me be satisfied

& this is what life is

each one of us goes

each one of us dies

& I know I told you

I loved you

or how much I tried

& I know

I cannot say this

in your ears

ever again

no matter how I try

polin’

poling down the river

early Sunday morning

slightly hung over

needing another drink

curving through

our favourite bends

& coming the other way

a family in a beat up

hire borrowed canoe

& the kid in the middle

in his excited voice says

we just saw a dragon fly!

& we nod & smile

while a buzzard over our head flies

we paddle on

hearing the younger kid

soft growing distant

wonder if there are crocodiles?

& I soft whisper to her

we were saying babe

we don’t have a lot of luck

but the truth of it

is

we do