Remember Wednesday afternoons
when Anxiety always picked us
for his team at football
out in freezing fields lined up
against uniform walls we stood
like the unbuttered face of white bread
when the captains of houses chose sides
and Confidence picked all the bullies
and the lads in smart new kit
as Brilliance and Future Prosperity
chose boys who built guitars
and paid for school meals
while we shivered with the fat boy
who couldnÕt run in cheap shorts
and pumps off the market
then teamed up with Captain Anxiety
and nobody thought we could win
least of all us and you agreed,
didnÕt you, with your long corridors
where we waited outside the HeadÕs room
as the games played on without us
and you showed us, didnÕt you?


Light pollution through the blinds
from the roundaboutÕs floodlights.
The duvetÕs not big enough
for two and thereÕs your hip which
is always in the wrong position. 2am
and the traffic never quite stops and
that wayÕs just not comfortable
in a single. We talk, carry each otherÕs
troubles like luggage packed tightly
with pyjamas on top for when itÕs cold
youÕre ill, dozing, look at you, sweating.
And if it was so good on that side,
why canÕt we do it on this? What did
your last servant die of? Sex
apparently  Ń oooh oh Afternoon Delight.

IÕve counted the cranes from your window
and thereÕs eight, brought juice, pills,
slept on the right side, which is the left.
Outside is a scene from a car chase ,
only with more of that please,
whatever it was you were doing
with your hand. Woman in bed, man
attendant; half past early: the party
has only just started and we really
must sleep: tomorrow over desks,
on trains, memories melt into one
hot pool of flesh looking out at
vapour trails and traffic, your car
in the car-park, purring.


ten years before in a restaurant
on the Pla¨a Real with a friend
from my born-again teens
who was reading Krishnamurti.

I carried Lunch Poems
the Gaudi streets, down the Ramblas
at midnight. My 30th birthday:
attracted by the girl from San Diego.

Suddenly itÕs you and me
at home for a birthday supper,
youÕre saying a rosary,
IÕm 40 wondering are the last

ten years a mirage? Well:
45 heaves round like a train.


We know you too well, Mr Mailbags,
your white stick tapping the ground,
your bag of midnight messages,

bills and official letters, catalogues
of erotic underwear and biros
stuffed in charity envelopes.

Sometimes, we good citizens dream
of stealing your sack, and the bike
tied to its post on the corner,

slipping letters with faint odours
of Roses of Picardy
through doors
on foreign cul-de-sacs or the Close

you always missed where someone
even now waits patiently at home
for the stroke of someoneÕs signature.

       © Steve Waling 2004