Elaine got off
the school bus
following her younger sister
not sure if John


was on the bus
or not
she didn't look
although she had been


tempted many times
to look about her
but she just stared
out the window


at the passing view
listening to others
talking and laughing
wondering if John


was there
and if he had been
looking at her
she walked on


by the school fence
her sister went off
with a friend
into the girls' playground


she looked
at her shoes


her white
ankle socks
now and then


at the passing feet
of others
not looking
but staring


for the school bell
to ring
can we still talk?


a voice asked
she looked up
John was standing there
with that quiff of hair


that hazel eyed stare
she blushed
and looked at him
talk about what?


she asked moodily
looking at his
loosely tied tie


as long
as we can talk
he said
she didn't feel


like talking
or listening
but she did
she was in


such a depressed mood
that she thought that
any moment she
was going to cry


and she didn't want
him or others
to see her cry
she looked behind him


at passing girls
their hair
all arranged neatly
you're not going


to kiss me again
are you?
she said
he looked at her


then at her hair
not if you don't
want me to
he said


although at that moment
he wanted to
because he wanted
to make the oddness


of the day before right
to get them back
to some kind
of friendship again    


she wasn't sure
if she felt relieved or not
part of her
wanted him


to kiss her
to show others
that someone
did find her attractive


and that she wasn't
just a 14 year old
frump as others
called her


we can't talk now
she said
the bell will soon go
maybe lunch time


at recess?
he nodded
he said


I’ll look out for you
O by the way
I saw a Jay yesterday
she looked at him


there was a small smile
on his lips
she said


it's a bird
he said
don't see them often
but it was in


our garden briefly
she said
not knowing


what else to say
about a bird
I’ll show you
a picture


in my bird book
at recess
if you like
he said


she nodded
and a smile spread
on her lips
the book of birds


he kept in that
coat pocket of his
she thought
the school bell rang


and he said
see you later
and touched her hand
and was gone


she she sensed
his touch still there
warming moving along
her nerves


like a fire
opening up
a small unknown
deep down desire.


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What names
shall we give
our children
when we get older?


Judy asked
as we walked
through the woods
behind the house


towards the lake
(as she called
the pond
in the woods)


I’m no good
with names
I said
you must


have some idea
what names to call
your children
I haven't got children


not yet but when
we're older you will
she said
the trees were


coming into leaf
the sun was straight overhead
birds were flying
from branch to branch


what if it's a girl?
she asked
I thought about
the middle spread picture


of the sports car
in the Eagle comic
I’d just pinned
to my bedroom wall


the parts number
and labelled


you must have
a girl's name?
she asked


I said
what kind of name
is that?
she said


I think it's in
that Beethoven opera
Miss Graham
made us listen to


during lessons
I said
I don't like it
Judy said


the car picture
was just one
of many I had
on my bedroom walls


I had one photograph
of Hayley Mills
in a frame
by my bed


I got it
from a magazine
on move-stars
what about Ruth?


she said
or Rebecca?
the path through the woods
was windy


there were bramble
on each side
how about Jezebel
I said


it has a certain
ring to it
don't like it
she said


gives off
a bad scene
we reached the fence
around the lake


and climbed over
she had on
that peasant
looking dress


flowered red and yellow
I caught a glimpse
of thigh
as she went over


you're not
taking it
she said


as we walked down
the grass towards
the water
sure I am


I said
I think Judy’s
a fine name
for a daughter.


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Lizbeth holds
father's bike


while sitting
on her own
waiting for


to return
from the hedge


with bird's eggs
or the shells
of blackbirds


he had seen
once nest there
she is bored


she wants more
and other
things than this


bird watching
or looking
out for those


she wants sex
not nature


study shite
where are you?


she calls out
just coming
he replies


if only
she muses
watching bees


on flowers
the soft buzz


going by


she calls out
where are you?
here I am


he replies
coming out
of a hedge


clutching blue
black speckled
eggshell bits


in his palm
look at that
fine eggshells


he says soft
she looks strained
her eyes scan


the eggshells
in his hand
is that it?


just eggshells?
lucky find
he replies


tucking them
in the black


on the bike
she watches
his fingers


how gently
they arrange
the eggshells


in the bag
can we go
to that hut


on the Downs
that you found?
she asks him


he buckles up
the black bag
I guess so


he replies
it's not big
just an old


shepherd's hut
unused now
is it far?


she asks him
ten minutes
walk away


he replies
we can't ride?
she asks him


too hilly
he replies
her lips pout


and she sighs
only way
he tells her


ok then
she replies
so they ride


to the foot
of the Downs
leaving their


two bicycles
by a tree
and walk up


and along
the pathway
between trees


he thinking
of a nest
he'd seen there


the last time
Robin's nest
he believes


she thinking
of hot sex
in the shed


on the floor
on the old
bath towel she'd


brought from home
she and he
all alone


walks and sniffs


the fresh air
thinking of


robin's eggs
and of them
getting there.

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A butterfly fluttered by
as we lay
in the long grass
well she talked,
I listened
to her words,
took them
into my mind,
turned them around
as if they
were rare gems,
all air and breath,
peppermint tasting.


I looked
at the rise and fall
of her breasts
beneath the blouse;
her hand shading
her eyes
from bright sunlight;
her hair tucked
behind her ears;
lips moving,
the pink gloss touching
lip to lip as she spoke.


The butterfly
disappeared from sight;
red and black
and white wings,
fluttering, riding
between her words,
carrying off,
maybe, a breath feel,
a wing touched,
sight captured.


I could have ran
a finger along
her thigh,
barely touching,
skimming maybe,
but my fingers behaved,
held back;
the rise and fall
of her mounds,
the eyes shaded,
her words
became butterflies,
fluttered about me,
carrying softness,
tender as bubbles,
syllables upon syllables
reaching for the sky,
then like far away stars
they began to die.

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it was the way
she sat
or the way


her head
titled slightly
or the promise
in her eyes,


dark and mysterious,
that outshone
the midday sun
on the school field;


I sitting there
next to her,
half shy
half opening up,


talking the talk,
eyeing her over,
taking in
her eyes,


the nose,
the lips partly open,
tongue moving
just along the edge.


it was the scent
she wore,


flowery smell;
her small breasts,
pushing against
the white blouse,


the buttons
under pressure;
her hands on
her thighs at rest;


her dark hair,
brushed just so,
and she spoke,
but I half listened,


half not,
caring not
how well she sat,
she cool,


I, oh boy,
so hot.

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Derek said
she smells peculiar
and don't she's
brush her hair?


I was standing with him
in the playground
by the steps
that went down


into the bombed out
cellar of a house
which was where
the playground was


I like her
I said
watching her walk
hesitantly around


the groups
of boys and girls
in game or conversation
bet she's got


lice or fleas
or whatever
he said
she's got an old man


who beats her
and a mother
who doesn't care
I said


well she could at least
wash properly
he said
despite the hardship


and such
my mother
let her bathe
at our place


the other Sunday night
I said
didn't find
no lice or fleas


she had said
just dirt and grime
you didn't bathe
with her then?


Derek said laughing
no she bathed alone
my mother making sure
she was washing ok


Derek looked over at her
still smells peculiar
he said
it's the soap


we gave her
to take home
I guess
fancy a game


of cards?
he said
taking  football cards
out of his back pocket


I said
and so we went down
by a vacant wall


and flicked our cards
to see got nearest
the wall and see
who won


whose cards
but out
of the corner
of my eye


I saw Ingrid
walking about
the playground
her dull flower


patterned dress
having seen
better days
her scuffed shoes


shyly making tread
should be with her
I thought
but carried on


playing cards
with Derek instead.

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Janice and I
had taken a bus
to London Bridge
(pennies supplied


by my old man)
I showed her
the hospital of St Guys
and on until


we were over the Bridge
and we stood looking over
into the Thames
looks murky


she said
it is
I replied
are there fish


in there?
don't know
wouldn't want
to eat them


if there are
I said
she pulled a face
then straightened


her red beret
with her thin fingers
so that it sat just
at a slight tilt


her fair hair
flowing out
that look all right?
she asked


it looks fine
I said
she wore a pink


flowered dress
and a white cardigan
and had a black
little girl's handbag


(her gran
had bought it
for her birthday
some months before)


where shall
we go now?
she asked
there's a café


my old man
takes me to sometimes
I said
we can go there


they do glasses
of cool lemonade
or cream soda
she smiled


and so I took her there
and we took seats
by the window
(the place was crowded


with adults)
and a waitress
brought us
two glasses


of cream soda
with straws
your father
brings you here?


she said
yes sometimes
when he takes me
to the West End


we go to other cafés
or restaurants
and go to
the fun machine arcade


and that's fun
putting coins
into these machines
some times


we go to the cinema
or just walk
about the sights
I said


Gran says evil people
live up the West End
that certain parts
are akin to Hell


Janice said
I don't about that
I said
we just go


to the safe parts
I guess
we sipped our sodas
she looking around her


at the adults
drinking and eating
and smoking
and laughter hit out


now and then
some guy pinched
a waitress's backside
and she slapped


his hand and laughed
Janice blushed
and looked away
another guy


with a black moustache
looked over at us
giving Janice the eye


an ear to ear grin
we finished
our sodas
and left the café


glad to be out
of there
to be on our way.

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Helen brought
Battered Betty
along with her
as we met


by Burton's the Tailors
she coming up
out of the subway
in that greeny grey dress


with the faded flowers
where we going?
she asked
hugging Betty


close to her
I noticed the doll
had one eye closed
what happened


to Betty's eye?
it got poked out
by little brother
and it only goes in


this way now
so she can't see out
Helen said sadly
I nodded my head


OK I thought
we could go
to Bedlam Park
as it's a nice day


and I’ve brought
some buns
and 1d drinks
so we can have


a sort of picnic
I showed her
the carrier bag
in my left hand


she looked in
and smiled
that'll be good
she said


so we walked
along St George’s Road together
I had my toy 6 shooter
in the holster


around my waist
(just in case
we had a run in
with any bad cowboys)


I would have brought something
Helen said
had I known
could have brought


some potato crisps
or sandwiches
but I like buns
and those 1d drinks


we crossed
by our school
and on into the Park
on by the War Museum


and found a place
on the grass
and sat down
she laying Betty


by her side
we shared the buns
and had a drink each
the morning sun


coming through
the trees above
white clouds passing
sharing our food


and drinks
and our 9 year old love.

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I wonder if
the Moroccan sun
going down
into the Mediterranean
sea(or seemingly so),
noticed us
kissing on the beach
by the tufts of grass?


We cared not,
but went about
our business
as lovers do.


Loud music
from the base camp,
some one sang,
guitar, voices,
silly laughter.


It was quite
some time
ago now;
age has set in,
have become stiff
and ache,
but it was
a good session,
as I recall,
for time-sake.

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