The wet streets are so dark
you have to mount the pavement
with agonizing precision,
flowers dangling from wire baskets,
dead scatter of leaves,
and the plants like limp chickens
thudding ungraciously to the kerb.
A begonia clings to your shoe.
Perhaps this isn’t what you wanted.
Perhaps what you’d hoped
was to throw yourself out
into an ocean of clean faces
who would sail past stylishly
beneath clouds of straightened hair,
for the throb of their heels
to tremble up
through tarmac, fresh rainfall,
through you. Stars buzzing
like streetlamps. Ironed shirts.
Your trousers fray and swing.
Instead you find yourself spluttering
into the moon of your fist,
heaped in the passenger seat
of a slow taxi. Scatter pound coins
on the dashboard
only to slide the rest towards barmen.
You crunch on peanuts and wait.
The blinds tugged down in daylight
give way to the flutter of late women,
not one of them who you expected
and yet you worship each one
her stale familiarity–
the cheap bra strap
slithering loose from a spaghetti vest,
fling a wet kiss on her neck.
Now she lures you, smiling
through blank cigarette inches–
within hours, heaping your bollocks
into each moisturised palm,
weighting your hands
with the swell of her natural breasts.
Now you wake in the shrinking bedroom
of your mid-twenties, eat toast
in a stained bed. This, you once believed,
was where the magic could happen.
This mangle of sheets. Pillows
piled up like corpses.
A car horn instead of a cock-crow
wakes you again, flinging the sheets
to gaze up half-romantically
over the steering wheel of your life,
at the red eye lit like a planet,
the perpetual colour of traffic.