groans of slow traffic. Good taste and bad
the night's imitation of day. A loud shirt,
I don't know anyone. Watch the cats' eyes blink

as clouds move inland threatening worse,
swim in my head like alcohol. Beetles
pick up passengers, head for the suburbs.

Enter the pub wearing cash and a mile,
scraps of weather talk floating on air;

anything is sortable in the back of a cab
in empty space. A man worshipped by rain
heads home; colour drained the cars bare

sharpened headlamps. Something's not said
among the parked-up motors. Shouts of abuse
shut shop windows. A bus sloughs through puddles.




Time passed staring at grounded rainbows
the sloosh of wheels through puddles
spreading across a bleached forecourt

Down the road a priest says early mass
to two old women and a monk where the air
was always queasy I'd rush to serve them

Not forgotten that stale smell of oil
from the pressed nozzle though mostly
sun rises from behind wet roofs stretches

Into a cramped cabin where I'd watch
silent pumps that stood unreadable unfit
with sick-sweet fuel that flowed yawning

Moaning of traffic and the cost chill air
dissolves in sex at No 36 watch the clocks
spin up the miles yawning yellow arms

Playing Russian roulette tanks full
of obsequious smiles then three cars
arrived at once across the estate bored

Cars in garages wait out for Sunday
runs nothing is about to happen in triggers
soldiers on parade salute their petrol heads




It fills your pockets with rain. Trees and grass
all I recall of the road into Dawlish. Sometimes

We drove South in the old Skoda that kept
breaking down. Sometimes the day's so heavy

and a bridge from then to now includes Dad
blind on half a scrumpy. Nostalgia sets, concrete

Amazing happiness of the first coffee. Don't
let it get you down. We've not been back

Lovely cool evening with the lights coming on
I think of the fires my father lit. A long trip

Perhaps a brass band parping at the front
Alexander's Ragtime Band
. Or was it Barcelona

The man with a withered arm begging coins
of a currency I can't count. It's the most




Shall I jump over fences to impress
when as I start I look in your eyes &

tell myself to button it lad you don't
have to say anything. Just let me be

a penstroke in a sketch by Hokusai:
sometimes I could shout at myself:

why am I attempting all these grand &
witty remarks when you catch me &

all speaking leaves? Blue as a heron
that stopped me once on a riverbank

the back of my throat like trousers snagged
crossing a fence. Why should I leave

the arms of not saying a word where
everything important drifts just away &




Open the door    trip over the cat who isn't
What would you like? Some toast? The past
under foot like some sly creature who enters
but you aren't the English Breakfast type

are you     Anyway, that Christmas you
took me shopping; or the time we sat
then my return                 asleep on the pillow
there's still some ghosts I can't get rid of

how long must I look to my heart which
craves attention   food in bowls at regular
intervals? No more, little ghost, will you scratch
at my                                in Lancaster kissing

in the Meeting House        later in Starbucks
when I canāt be funny or brave    I'm lying
to say I donāt miss midnights watching you
comb your hair   dash to the car    Sometimes

it's hard nurturing the grace of sleeping on beds
couches    the cushion the      took ownership of
you never stayed               through the window
with her own suitcase    porridge or cornflakes?

I could declutter that kitchen      stays ten years
"Dead cat poems. Don't like them. Never have.
But when the buggers diez"*
wherever they go they don't come back

                                  [* copland smith, Sarah

      © Steve Waling 2006