girl

BLUE LEFT EYE.

There were bright lights
from the ceiling
once it got
dark outside

 

and when big Ted
brought in
the sandwiches
for tea or supper

 

or whatever
they called it
I sat next to Christine
on one

 

of the double sofas
and she looked
at the plates
of sandwiches

 

that were laid
on the table
and said
usual boring stuff

 

I’m not eating
I’d rather starve
big Ted said
O come on

 

young lady
we've got
to get you well again
and out of this ward

 

he offered her
a ham sandwich
real ham
he said

 

not that tin stuff
she looked at him
don't fancy meat
she said

 

he took up
a cheese sandwich
Cheddar
he said

 

good stuff
I’ve tasted it
downstairs
in the kitchen

 

I could eat a horse
I said
taking the cheese sandwich
no horse sandwiches today

 

Ted said smiling
Christine gazed at me
then at the plate
of sandwiches

 

it's an effort to eat
she said
I should be coming home
from my honeymoon now

 

if the fuck hadn't left me
at the altar
done my head in
Ted raised his eyebrows

 

is there anything
I can get you other
than sandwiches?
they've got

 

sausage rolls downstairs
all dressed
in my wedding dress
with flowers

 

and waiting
and he doesn't show
I take a ham sandwich
his loss

 

I said
he must be missing a screw
not to wed you
she gazed at me

 

then took
a cheese sandwich
and ate
Ted frowned

 

and walked off
to get the teapot
and coffee pots
and cups

 

from the trolley
you'll find someone
I said
don't think

 

I want anyone now
think I'll become a nun
or missionary
in some far off land

 

sexless and taking care
of others
she sat eating
in silence for a moment

 

or two
not sure
I could go long
without sex

 

come to think of it
she took a ham sandwich
with one hand
and placed a hand

 

on my thigh
with that dull light
in her green blue
left eye.

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MEETING FOR COFFEE AND SUCH IN 1967.

As I came
from the Embankment
underground station
towards Charing Cross

 

I saw Julie standing
looking in
a shop window
she looked thin

 

in the jeans
and yellow tee-shirt
her hair was drawn back
in a ponytail

 

she saw me
and walked towards me
thought I’d meet you here
she said

 

got bored waiting
in Trafalgar Square
ok
I said

 

good that you're here
we kissed and walked
hand in hand
up to Charing Cross

 

how are you?
I asked
fucked
she said

 

the doctors
have been on my case
all week
and the nurses

 

have been
breathing down my neck
into everything I do
can't even go

 

to the bog
without them
standing outside the door
in case I’m shooting up

 

and are you?
I asked
course not
where am I

 

going to get anything
to shoot up?  
we came to the road
and crossed

 

at the lights
and into Charing Cross Road
I missed you
she said

 

missed you too
I said
wish I had
a photo of you

 

to put by my bed
can't get one
she said
the parents won't bring

 

a thing from home
unless you have a camera?
no I don't
have a camera

 

I said
shame
she said
I’m going

 

to a jazz concert
next week
I said
jazz? yuk

 

she said
I’d rather
have an enema
who are you seeing?

 

Charles Lloyd
jazz sax guy
but I can see you
in the day time

 

it's in the evening
she looked at me
we could try book
into that crazy hotel again

 

for a few hours
she said
get that same room
and bed

 

today?
I asked
no next week
she said

 

OK
I said
I’ll ring through tonight
she smiled

 

give me something
to look forward to
all week
get me through

 

the nonsense
with the docs and nurses
we went into
Leicester Square

 

and into a café
for two coffees
and a slice
of chocolate cake each

 

and I studied
her face
and small breasts
just out of reach.

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JEANETTE'S PROMISE.

Jeanette was by
the wire fence
leaning against it
her hands

 

in front of her
resting one
on the other
she watched me

 

as I came out
of the school door
leading from the side
onto the sports field

 

her friend Angela
the blonde girl
had gone home
for lunch

 

my did you kiss me
like that?
she asked
as I went by her

 

your cheek
was tempting me
I said
so I kissed it

 

you should have
at least asked
she said
I will next time

 

I said
looking at her
taking in
her thin frame

 

and arms
what makes you think
there will be
a next time?

 

she said
her eyes were dark
like small currents
in cream dishes

 

I feel lucky
I said smiling
she didn’t smile back
you hang around

 

with that Rolland boy
don't you?
she said
yes he's a friend

 

I said
I don't like him
she said
he doesn't like you

 

much either
I said
he says
you're a titless wonder

 

she blushed
and looked away
but I like you
I think you have

 

a certain class
I mean the way you
sit there listening
to all that classical stuff

 

Miss Graham plays
to us in lessons
while we
are bored brainless

 

you sit there
in another world
actually enjoying it
she looked at me

 

I love Beethoven
she said
his music moves me
her eyes settled on me

 

she played with her fingers
but you ought
to have asked
before kissing

 

she said
have you told anyone
I kissed you?
no of course not

 

she said
shame it might do
some good
I said

 

in what way?
she said
other kids might not
think you so stuffy

 

and snobbish
I said
she looked
at her well heeled shoes

 

and white socks
it was only a peck
she said
not a real kiss

 

it was lips
on cheek skin
I said
wet and warm

 

she said shyly
there you go
I said
BENNY

 

Rolland called out
from the sports field
COME ON FOOTIE
best go

 

I said
see you in class
and I ran off
towards Rolland

 

and other boys
kicking a ball
maybe a kiss tomorrow
she had said

 

as I went off
up on the grass
I nodded
and turned away

 

the sky had brightened
blue skies
had moved off
the dull of grey.

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BLOWN KISS.

Benedict
Christina called
as I got off
the school bus

 

I went over
to her
standing by
the wire fence

 

surrounding
the girls' playground
she took my arm
and walked me

 

along the fence
out of earshot
of others
I dreamed

 

of you last night
she said
did you now
I said

 

watching a prefect
looking over
what was I up to?
that would be telling

 

she said
that's the point
I said
some girls

 

were playing skip rope
singing a rhyming song
she looked at me
with her brown eyes

 

you kissed me
she said
is that all?
I said

 

the prefect  was walking
over towards us
his lanky frame
moving

 

at a steady pace
it was a long kiss
she said
how long?

 

I asked
I didn't time it
she said
but it was good

 

made me feel
all unnecessary
as I heard
my cousin say

 

when she stayed
with us
what are you two
up to?

 

the prefect asked
you
he said to me
should be making

 

your way
to the boys' playground
not here
chatting up girls

 

Christina
looked at him
then at me
she dreamed of me

 

last night
I said
she was just
telling me

 

I bet no one
dreams of you
I added
looking at

 

the lanky prat
do you want to go
to the headmaster?
he said

 

giving me
the stern eye
Christina
was looking at me

 

her eyes like
melted chocolate
got to go
I said to her

 

see you lunch time
at recess
on the field
I walked off

 

the prefect stared
after me
Christina stood
with her hands

 

in front of her
her thumbs playing
with each other
I turned before

 

I went out of sight
and blew
her a kiss
which she pretended

 

to catch and put in
her school skirt pocket
the prefect scowled at her
as she walked away

 

patting my blown kiss
next to her thigh
easing out
a school girl sigh.

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EMPTY COTTAGE

Judith took me
to the derelict cottage
just off the wood
in the Easter recess

 

from school
she opened up
the back door
and into the kitchen

 

with its smell
of damp and decay
it's been empty for years
she said

 

my sister and I
used to come here
and pretend
it was our own cottage

 

smells horrible
I said
ignore the smell
she said

 

pretend it's our
own cottage
and we have
just moved in

 

after marrying
when did we marry?
I asked
after we left school

 

she said
smiling
she walked into
a larger room

 

with wide windows
looking out
onto a large
overgrown garden

 

we could grow
some of our own food
she said
looking out

 

the window
I looked at
the hanging wallpaper
and a damp patch

 

on the ceiling
and our children
could play out there
she said

 

what children?  I asked
when did they come along?
after we married
she said

 

I don't remember
I said smiling
you will
if you pretend better

 

she said
moving through
to another room
at the front

 

I noticed a space
where a picture
must have hung
because it was cleaner

 

than the rest
of the wall
I like this room
she said

 

this is where we will sit
and have our TV
and radio
and the children

 

can sit with us
and we can cuddle them
I nodded playing along
let me show you upstairs

 

to the bedrooms
she said
so I followed her
up the creaky stairs

 

her green skirt
swaying as she walked
three bedrooms
she said

 

one for us
one for our boys
and one for our girls
she stood

 

in the front bedroom
looking out
over an untidy hedge
onto the road

 

this is our bedroom
she said
turning around
looking at it all

 

our bed can go there
she said
pointing to a wall
on the left

 

and we can have
a dressing table
and dresser
the room was empty

 

and smelt
over by the right wall
was a pile of shit
some one's been here

 

and dumped
I said
probably some tramp
or hobo

 

she looked
at the shit
and said
who's dumped

 

in our bedroom?
I laughed
it isn't our room yet
pretend

 

she said
I pretended
the shit wasn't there
and we went

 

into the other bedrooms
and she said
this was where
such and such

 

will be
and out of the window
the overgrown garden
seemed vast

 

with an apple orchard
to the left
she touched my hand
and squeezed it

 

we will be happy here
she said
I looked about
the room years after  

 

the cottage smelt ranker
and she was dead.

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LIZBETH'S BATH.

Lizbeth sits
in the bath
sponges down

 

and under
her thin arms
over small

 

but full breasts
soapy suds
hot water

 

pretending
Benedict
is washing

 

between thighs
(here she sighs)
wiggles her

 

two big toes
she wonders
if he would

 

do such things
she doubts it
not the type

 

but she's tried
to get him
to have sex

 

even once
in her room
but mother

 

came back too
soon and spoilt
her chances

 

and that time
in his room
with his tank

 

of old bones
skeletons
and bird's eggs

 

and model
Spitfire
hanging down

 

but no sex
frustrated
she sponges

 

along thighs
imagining
it is he

 

rubbing her
his warm lips
planting hot

 

wet kisses
on the back
of her hand

 

touch on touch
O too much
if was such.

 

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TRAIN SPOTTING WITH LYDIA.

I knocked
on Lydia's front door
and waited
the morning sun

 

was coming
into the Square
Lydia's old man
opened the door

 

and stared at me
with bloodshot eyes
what do you want?
he said

 

is Lydia
coming out?
I asked
who wants to know?

 

I do
why?
wondered if she'd like
to see the trains

 

I said
why would she
want to see trains?
he said gruffly

 

she likes trains
I said
he looked beyond me
at the block of flats behind  

 

who said
she likes trains?
she did
I said

 

I work
with fecking trains
all day
she's never said

 

about trains before
he said
looking at me again
his eyes trying

 

to focus
we often
go see trains
I said

 

we went  to Waterloo
train station
the other week
he closed his eyes

 

rubbed
his hairy chin
and breathed out
a beery flavour

 

LYDIA
he bellowed suddenly
I stepped off
the front door step

 

and stood
gaping at him
LYDIA
he called again

 

he opened his eyes
and stared at me
I detected life
behind the mask

 

Lydia came
to the door
and peeped under
her old man's arm

 

this kid wants to know
if you want go see
fecking trains
he said gently

 

his voice silky
do you?
she nodded her head
yes

 

can I?
she asked
he looked at me
as if I’d just

 

stolen his wallet
trains?
he said
steam trains

 

I said
yes steam trains
she said
we like watching them

 

he raised his eyebrows
and looked down at her
under his arm
resting on the door jamb

 

ok ok
if you want go see trains
go see trains
he said

 

and wandered off
inside
leaving Lydia and me
looking at each other

 

Waterloo again?
I asked
what about Victoria station?
she said

 

ok sure
I replied
and she turned
around

 

to go get
her shoes inside.

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INGRID AND BREAKFAST.

Ingrid usually wore
the faded grey
flowery dress
that had seen

 

better days
I saw her crossing
Rockingham Street
I was getting

 

bread rolls
and she was standing
by the wall
of the flats

 

red eyes
hair unbrushed
where are you going?
she asked

 

getting rolls
for breakfast
I said
how comes

 

you're out here
so early?
I asked
my dad

 

pushed me out
said I was getting
on his nerves
she said

 

have you had breakfast?
I asked
no not yet
she said

 

I looked up
Meadow Row
the early morning sun
was breaking

 

through clouds
you can come back
to my mum's place
I said

 

have rolls and butter
she looked at me
can I ?
she said

 

of course
I replied
taking in her red eyes
and untidy hair

 

and a fading bruise
under her left eye
real butter?
she said

 

yes and maybe
cheese if you want
I said
she looked at me

 

her eyes
feeding on me
what now?
she said

 

yes
come to the bakers
with me and we
can go back

 

to my mum's place
together
I said
so we went across

 

to the baker's shop
and I bought
crusty bread rolls
my mother had said

 

and we walked back
through the Square
and up the stairs
to the flat

 

are you sure
your mum
won't mind?
she said

 

as I opened
the front door
no she won't mind
the more the merrier

 

I said
and so we went
into the kitchen
and I told my mother

 

and she said fine
and cut open the rolls
and buttered them
and put in

 

some cheese
and Ingrid and I
went into
the front room

 

and we ate them
in an early morning
silence
and as she ate

 

I gave a secret sigh
seeing the fading bruise
beneath
her left eye.

 

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HELEN AND BUTT-ENDS.

Teatime done with
I went with Helen
across the bomb site
off Meadow Row

 

and crossed
the New Kent Road
to the ABC cinema
and along side

 

the dark alleys
dim lights
damp stink
she just behind me

 

clutching her doll
Battered Betty
by one arm
was that a rat?

 

she half said
and screamed
could be
I said

 

you see
them at night
down here
she clutched my arm

 

with her free hand
Battered Betty
swaying behind her
what we looking for?

 

she asked
cigarette ends
I said
why?

 

What do you
want them for?
she asked
make up a smoke

 

with Rizla fag papers
I said
you smoke
old tobacco?

 

she said
put it
in your mouth?
If I get

 

enough tobacco
sure
I said
looking around

 

the ground
yuk
she said
sometimes

 

I find dropped coins
I found a cuff link once
silver it was
but one

 

ain't much good
unless you're
a one armed man
I said

 

does your mum know
you smoke?
God no
I said

 

she has enough
to worry about
without me
adding to it

 

she frowned
clutched my arm tighter
well you shouldn't smoke
she said

 

you're only 9 like me
and I would never smoke
and our children
when we have them

 

won't smoke either
she said
she looked
at Battered Betty steely

 

I pushed her words
and images
out of my mind
for the moment

 

I saw a semi-smoked
Senior Service
on the ground
by the wall

 

and stooped
to pick it up
it's got lipstick on it
Helen said distastefully

 

it's has a woman's
spittle inside
I looked at her
disapproving gaze

 

and threw it away
yes you're right
I said
men's spittle's best

 

she frowned darkly
ok
I said
not really

 

I just jest
another time maybe
I thought
taking her deeper

 

into the dark
and rats
and damp stink
of drains

 

remembering it all
it sinking
into my
9 year brain.

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