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

all I had to do

drifting to sleep

tired & alone

times I was thinking

if this was down

to anybody

who I could blame

these shoulders cold

the chill filling the room

all this is mine

I made it my own

turning down women

ladies who would’ve stopped me

from feeling the cold

kept me high & fed

tucked up my head

warmed up the bed

& all I had to do

was keep sayin’ yes

when like the fool I am

I kept giving no

come Saturday the sleep slays the hours

I did it because I could

tired of working 12hr shifts

& the pick me up

towards the end of those hours

meant I could finish

go home see my girl & live a little

but then it gets to

having a taste when you start

because you’re still burned out

from yesterday

& you make it through today

make it through the week

come Saturday the sleep slays the hours

& she wants to go out see friends

go eat brunch go shop clothes

& sleep is all you need

so she goes on her own

& Saturday night you take a taste

go sweep through the town

& Sunday you need sleep again

but there’s chores to be done

& you’re on the run baby

you’re on the hook now

just to do your life your love

your fun

the poor always pay more

sometime around midnight

I couldn’t drive no more

pulled into an industrial estate

put the seats down low

wrapped a thin blanket on

closed my eyes feeling the dry

& just as the black swept in

yappy! yappy! coming closer

fading dopplering away

yappee! yappee!

then yappeeee!

close in to the window

I opened it a crack

woss the problem?

I’ve lost my little dog she said

her looking in all around

haven’t seen it I said

to her disappointed face

I just need to sleep some

then I’ll be gone

& she went on her way

satisfied she’d sounded out

the vagabond the bum

maybe burglar

sleep disturbed wondering

FFS who loses a dog

on an industrial estate

past midnight on a Saturday

anyway?

begin to breathe again

twenty years

is about average

before I really let them go

after a month

I can begin to breathe again

six eating is no longer a chore

maybe a year down the line

my thinking gets easier

interrupted thoughts

sleeping starts

coming on fine

five years & we’re moving along

by then

usually

I’ve found a proper friend

& ten

I can manage

not to run away

if I see you somewhere

fifteen if you get mentioned

I can hold the blush down

talk about them past tense

begin figuring what really happened

how much was you being mean

was me failing to understand

& finally twenty

I can talk to you

look you in the eye

treat you like another person

not want

to go home & cry

it was something

though I cannot remember the why now

I pulled the car over

you drive

& started walking there in the sun

she drove off

the few clouds scuttled slow & high

I could hear the birds

feel the breeze blowing scents

from the pines on the ridge

I saw a sweet spot green & open

pushed through the hedge

to lay for a while

& I was gone

waking to the sun lower

wondering just where I was

made the few miles back home

she was sitting staring into glass

waved my hand no answers

just don’t ask

though there was no need

she already had something more important

so I filled her drink again

knowing

none of this will last

shepherding cats

I’d wake about 6 to go to work for 8

with the room full of smoke

& she’d be sitting there

cigarette in jand

chewing her cheek

y’ok babe? I’d ask

yeah, yeah, I was watching you sleep

you’re such an angelic bastard

lying there eyes closed snoring away

& she’d smile a sweet smile

while I eyed the vodka level

checking the empty beer bottles

working out how long she’d been there

watching me sleep two handed drinking

vodka in one & good beer in the other

I’d shit shower shave get dressed

trying to avoid her eyes those open arms

too many mornings I’d fallen in with her

fucked an hour away to be late again

the boss not understanding

that shepherding cats

had pitfalls traps & snarls for a weary man

& at the end of the working day she might

might not be there in her car smoking

calling you coming this way lover boy?

for us to do it all over again

first the steady drinking vodkas & beers

then a row over something to be sorted

climbing into bed for the make-up sex

trying not to fall asleep as she told me

of her life loves the unrequited unwanted

sordid sad details of people

men who just did not understand

& falling asleep finally

knowing I would be added to the loser list

to wake about 6 for work at 8

the room full of smoke

asking y’ok babe?