I cannot sleep.
I’m thinking of sleeping with the Classics.
Where should I start?
With the vulnerable Pound?
The clumsy Thomas?
The mystical Rainer?
Blake? I certainly loved his technique.
Maybe Bukowski could be somewhere in the middle…
I bet he’d last an entire five minutes.
Perhaps I could finish with
It could be my punishment-
for all of the sinful fornication,
the moral blasphemous
of such casual carnage–
each lash of the whip a bit
Yes, yes, yes!
I will go out not with a bang
but a whimper.
I want to keep you captive
Like a book upon my shelf
That I will not lend to anyone
And won’t read for myself
‘This is it, you know.’
‘Is that so?’
Flo holds up a dull tin, the label warped and peeling. Smoothing the paper, she reads:
Flic joins her. ‘Beans. Best til last.’ She sniffs the metal with exaggerated relish.
‘Yes, you do the honours Flic.’
‘Are you sure? Come with me.’
‘Wait… Let’s cook this first.’
Flo walks to where a low sun casts through the glass. It reflects off a loch, red with algae. With arthritic hands, she turns the gears of the can-opener. Slow.
‘I’ll get the knife.’
‘Warm the pan too. We can spare the gas, after all.’
‘Get it piping.’
Flo chuckles. It is always hot now.
While the flame burns, blue on black, Flic goes over to the other window. On the deep stone sill sits a stunted lemon tree. She spits on a cuff and polishes its crisp leaves. A broken residue comes away on her sleeve.
‘To think Flo. We grew it.’
‘From just a pip.’
Flo prises the can’s lid with a knife, scrapes congealed innards onto the heat. She joins Flic, looking out over the raw dark hills.
‘What’re the odds?’
‘Not good. But it lived, alright.’
Breath held, Flic pulls the lone lemon from its branch. In the palm of her hand, she eases through the soft pith with blunted blade. Zest. Flo leans forward, inhales for them both.
‘I’ll get the bottles.’
Fast on stiff hips, Flo makes for the cupboard. The tonic lets off the barest hiss and the gin cap is almost rusted stiff.
One. Two. Yellowed liquor slipped in both. Flo throws the remaining dram to the flagstones.
‘For the dead,’ she laughs. Flic smiles with her, eyes rheumy in the acid air.
Flic cuts over the glass, but the dry fruit does not drip. Three slices and a hard navel each.
‘Pull that pan.’
‘No need.’ Flo holds up their spoons, passes the least bent one over. She stirs, prising charred meat from the pan bottom. Takes a bite.
‘Well then, Flic.’
The two friends lock eyes, cheers.
You’d lap this right up, Kitten.
I can picture you performing torture
– all wringing hands and wrenching hair,
poetry and punches –
in the waiting room.
Oh, you’d luxuriate in all this:
the tragedy, the loss, the unloved life
(and that was meant to say unlived,
funny what phones’ll make you admit).
Yep, you’d lap it up
like cool cream, warm milk, thick blood
pouring round the basin
and down the drain.
Why I’m thinking of you, I don’t know.
You’re just something to think about, I suppose,
while I sit on this bloody train to nowhere
I want to go.
like knots on a diseased oak,
we huddle together
not like rotten planks
of a fallen floor
like something alive;
apples in a farmer’s market
gasping from a pavement crack,
reaching towards God
and grasping the crossbar,
eyes dodging from faces
or staring at them openly,
minds on work
or the press
or some drifting zephr memory;
a million infinities
touching eachother uncomfortably,
as many as there are fish in the sea,
and all on their way to somewhere,
and all with something unshareable in their heart
One is afforded the luxury
of a jumper and no pants;
sitting on my feet
with a bare bum
makes me feel like a child.
I like to wriggle my toes and
relish the rare innocence
of a naked body;
to curl up foetal around
soft folds of tummy
and nestle down to sleep
in the gap between two pillows.