Oslo that summer
having left the base camp
and the tent
with the Australian guy


(he was with the Yank girl)
you walked about
looking at the sights
Moira beside you


in her denims
and white tee shirt
and her hair frizzed
after a shower


(which she had taken alone
worse luck)
and she was talking
about the Yank girl


with whom she shared
her tent
O the perfume she wears
I’d rather sleep


in a tent
with a camel
than with her
and her voice


fucks my head
and do you know
I've heard about
her love life


from the very beginning
I’d rather spend the night
listening to a duck quack
you nodded


and listened
taking in her fire talk
her four letters words
filling the air


floating there
like black
angry birds
you can share with me


any time
well you could
if I didn't have
the Australian guy there


smelling of beer
and talking about Sheilas
and how he did this
and that


you said
Moira said
and have them


talk about me too
no I’m not that
kind of girl


how would we work it
to allow that to be?  
don't get so angry
about things


why do you Scots
get so moody?
it's not just us
she said


it's the fucking world's
view of us
as wee tight bastards
when we're not



she went on
giving you the stare
what do you


know of Scots?
lived in Edinburgh
for a while
you said


nice place
so much history
well there you go
she said


anyway what’s that
got to do
with the Yank bitch
and her perfume


and the love life
of a fucking rabbit
nothing I guess
you said


I think she's over here
studying art
O then
that explains it


the way she has

the I-couldn’t-go-a-day
-without- a man's- dick


kind of talk
and philosophy
Moira said
spitting out words


like broken teeth
what about a beer?
you said
chill out


and take in a view
and have a smoke
and I can tell you
of my love life?


the beer's a good idea
but I’m not so keen
on the tales
of your fuck life


she said
so you found a bar
off a street
and sat outside


with two beers
and a couple of smokes
and you wondering
how she bedded


and how indeed
to get her into your tent
and what to do
with the Australian guy


and the Yank dame
and off she went again
moaning about
the Southend


teacher guy
did you see him
at the from
of the mini bus


giving it all
that talk of history
and that Lancaster bitch
all ears and fucking teeth ?


you sat and smiled
listening to her
talking of herself
and the world's grief.

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Sonya in the moments free
of serving the customers
leaning on the serving bench
dark brown eyes


on you
her dark hair
pinned back
said she liked


Mahler’s 4th best
O so exciting
so full of the life
you preferred


the 5th or 2nd
but she said
no no too deep
too long


life is for living
not dozing
to long symphonies
she preferred Kierkegaard


to your Nietzsche
liked his leap of faith
his books on God
and such


you liked her mouth
like rose petals
stuck together


her ears visible
and so lickable
(if ever permitted
to do so)


that Nietzsche
she said
went mad
think it


was the pox
stuck his penis
in some whore's hole
she stopped to serve


a customer
all smiles
and politeness
that butter


wouldn't melt
in her mouth
kind of thing
you carried paint


up from the basement
and shelved it
in colour order
thinking of her


laying in some bed
Mahler's 4th
blaring out
she putting chocolates


one by one
into her small mouth
and licking
her fingers


so sexily
one leg
slightly lifted


the other flat
and you imagined her
yakking off
about the Kiergegaard guy


her other hand
not stuffing chocolates
in her mouth
resting over


her pubic hairs
you read Dante?
she asked
having served


the customer
with a smile
and politeness
yes the Purgatory


you said
that is where men belong
she said
unless they take


the leap of faith
she leaned
on the serving bench
eyeing you deeply


what you thinking about?
she asked 
how well you serve
the customers


you lied
thinking of her lips
pressing against yours
her tongue meeting yours


in her mouth
of her body
her hair
her eyes


that is why
I am here
to serve
she said


but she was serving you
your young man's head.

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When Christine heard
that he'd tried
to hang himself
in the men's crapper


desperation bells
began to ring
inside her head
then she saw him


on the locked ward
sans laces
or belts
or anything


he may use
to repeat
the performance
and he sat


in the big chair
his eyes dull
and his hair untidy
and with that loose hanging


dressing gown
minus belt
and in pyjamas
like some


Auschwitz guy
and she said
what the fuck
you in here for?


sitting in the armchair
next to him
broken heart
broken love


lost love
soul crashing
through all gears
to get back


to base
who knows?
he said
like that huh?


join the club
for what it's worth
we're all fucked up here
like driftwood


on a lonely beach
on some deserted island
she said
he gazed at her


as if a gnat
had landed
on his hand


they lock
the doors here?
sure do
all the time


what about visitors?
once a week
he looked at her


at her dark
long straggly hair
her dull eyes
why you here?


he said
some fuck
left me
at the altar


all dressed up
like some nun
in white
she said


he must have been
mad to have left you
he said


well he must be
because he did
an Indian woman


sat crossed legged
at her toes
a red spot


on her forehead
in long gowns
of bright colours


a plump woman
walked by smoking
eyeing them


foul mouthing
the nurse going by
so how long
you been here?


he asked
week or so
how long you staying?
until they say


I can leave
when will that be?
when they think
I’m better


or cured
or able to be
balanced again
when will that be?


how the fuck
do I know
she said


about the language
anger gets
to my tongue
before I do


you're not going
to hang yourself
again are you?
she asked


don't know
who I am any more
don't know jackshit
about myself


whoever myself is
she nodded
looked at his
handed in slippers


the scar
on his left wrist
not your first time then?
she said


touching the scar
guess not  
he said
welcome to Purgatory


she said
he sensed her finger
on his scar
the female touch


he wanted something
whatever it was
to hold on to


so very much.

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Miryam sits at the bar
sipping a Bacardi,
bumming a smoke
from a packet open
on the bar top.


Hear you went
to Fez today,
she says.


Yes, it was like
something out
of Bible times,
you say,
camels, donkeys,
people in head gear
and gowns and such.


I would have come,
she says,
but I was too
shagged out
after the night before.


You eye her,
the tight curly
red hair,
blue eyes,
red lips.


I made it ok,
you say.


Don't know how,
she says,
you left after I did.


And you didn't come in
the tent
for a goodnight
kiss or more,
she adds,
staring at you.


Thought moaning Minnie
would be back,
you say.


She didn't show
until hours after;
been having it off
with that ex-army guy
of yours.


So that’s where
he went,
you say,
taking a quick sip
of your wine.


I'd have stayed
if I'd known.


Miryam inhales deeply,
then exhales.

Where's Army boy now?
she asks.


No idea,
joined the navy
for all I care,
you say.


We could now
if you like,
she says.


You take in
her tight blouse,
tight skirt
with a slit
at the side,
showing thigh.


One of those
sand dunes,
they're deep enough
to hide us,
she says.


Why not?
What if someone
comes over
and sees us?
They see us.


Nothing new
in what we'll be doing.


She drains
her Bacardi,
puts the glass down
on the bar top.


the Moroccan sun? 
Either you do
or you don't,
she says,
getting off
the bar stool,
showing more thigh,
slim legs, sandals.


You drain your wine,
and follow her
from the bar
of the base camp,
and down
between the tents
and onto the beach
towards the sand dunes.


She has a fine sway
of hips, you note
as she walks in front.


The sun warms you,
sand beneath
your feet, some one
plays a flute
from across the way,
a voice sings.


She finds
a deep sand dune,
and you both
get down inside,
she kisses
straight away,
lips to lips stuff,
hands undoing,
and taking
stuff off,
her body drinking
in the sun.


You and the pecker,
ready to go,
and the guys
still singing
from the camp,
flute still playing,
and she smells
of sun oil
and Bacardi
and stale
but its all go
no time
for regrets.

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Lizbeth stares
at her hands


opened up
palms upward


lines across
the skin where


had held her


his palm there
squeezing tight


holding on
puts fingers


to her lips
where he kissed


his moisture
there somewhere


wanted more
more of him


inside her
as she's seen


in the book
her friend gave


a picture
of a man


and woman
having sex


he on top
she beneath


the man's butt


she had thought
the long legs


would just kiss


or hold hands
nothing more


we're just kids
he had said


when she had
said they could


in the barn
in the church


in her room
all alone


her mother
out shopping


or maybe
in the field


hidden by corn
but not him


leaving her
feeling numb


just them there


holding hands
and kissing


no fucking
in the field.

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It was the summer of love,
at least that's what they said.
There were guys with long
hair and beards and beads,


with wide trousers, and loud
shirts, and girls with long
hair, and dresses like nuns,
or short skirts, showing off


their not so good legs or thighs.
There was Hendricks, Beatles
and Stones and playing, music
loud, live. Julie was out for


the day; the hospital quacks,
giving her a day pass, no
shooting up, no pill popping.
She met Ben in Trafalgar


Square, tight skirt and top,
hair held in a ponytail, bright
eyed, big smile. He was
by the fountains having a


smoke, eyeing the girls,
listening to some long
haired guy strum a guitar,
his skinny girlfriend doing


a dance, her bony legs
looking breakable, tits
non existent. Been here
long? Julie said. No, just


a few moments, he lied,
not wanting to give her
reasons to moan or row.
She wanted to go for a beer.


So he took her to the bar
off Charing Cross Road
and ordered two cold beers
and lit up some smokes.


She spoke of some nurse
who almost lost her her pass,
all about some fuck up, over  
drugs, she’d forgotten to take.


She said the quacks were ok
with it, the tall one is hot,
she said, shouldn’t mind him
poking around in my parlour.


He told her about the Charles
Lloyd jazz album he'd bought,
how he'd met him outside Dobell's,
got a sign copy of the new L.P.


She drained her drink and he
ordered another two, she took
one of  his smokes and lit up
and sat back, crossing her legs,


her black short skirt riding her
thighs, sucking in his eyes.
No place for sex, she said,
unless you know of a bed


and room going cheap for
an hour or so?  No luck,
he said, wishing he did,
remembering the fast shaft,


the quickie in the hospital
broom room, amidst brooms
and brushes and buckets
or boxes and all. She said


her parents rang, and they
argued, and she slammed
down the phone. They said
it was the summer of love,


but where they sat, boozing
and smoking, it fell pretty flat.

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Someone special Della’s
mother told her. A Downs
with a lovely smile and
bright, slightly narrow eyes.


She had waited outside
the school grounds when
her mother drove up.


Sorry I’m late, her mother
said, got caught in the traffic.

Della frowned, her tongue
sitting on her lower lip.


Man said you sent him,
Della said. What man?
Man in a car. What man
in a car? Della looked at
her mother, puzzled.


Man in the car. What did
he say? Said you sent him
to pick me up. Called me
Dearie. But I’m Della.


Her mother got out of the
car and went and knelt
down beside her daughter.


You didn’t get in the car did you?
No he drove off fast when
Mrs Penbridge came over.


He said I was Dearie, but
I’m Della. Yes, you are. Not
Dearie. No not Dearie.


He smiled at me. You mustn’t
get in to a stranger’s car
unless I tell you it’s all right.


I didn’t get in. Good. He
drove off, Della said, lowering
her eyes to her new shoes.


He smiled. Yes, but that
doesn’t mean he was nice.

He seemed nice. Yes, but
men like that aren’t. Why?
Della looked at her mother.


Because he may have hurt you.
Why would he hurt me, I’m
special. Yes, you are special.


You are angry with me. No,
not with you. You’ve got
your angry voice. Not with
you. Seems angry with me.


Not you, the man. Why are
you angry with the man?
Because he may have taken
you away from me. Della
looked at her mother’s hair,
newly done. Where? Where
would he have taken me?


Away from me. Why?
Because he’s bad. Her
mother held Della to her
tightly. He didn’t look bad,
he had a nice smile. Nice
car, too. Blue. Nice blue.
Like a summer sky blue.


Never get in a stranger’s car.
Never. You are angry. Not
with you. Sounds angry.


But not with you. Not
with me? No, you are
special. Special. Yes.

Very special? Yes, very
special. Not to get in a
stranger’s car? No. Not in
a stranger’s car. I got in
your friend’s car the other day.


What friend? The man who
brings your groceries and
you and he talk and he makes
you laugh. Her mother stared.


When did you get in his car?
The other day. Why did you
get in his car? He said, you said.
Did he drive off with you? Yes.

The mother held Della out in
front of her. Where to? We
went to look at the ducks in
the pond. Why did you get
in the car? He said, you said.


But I didn’t tell him that.
He said, you said. Did he
touch you? Touch me? Did
he touch you anywhere?


He held my hand to go to
the ducks. Anywhere else?
He said I was special. You
are. Did he touch you anywhere?  


My hand. Anywhere else?

No. Just my hand to feed
the ducks. What happened
after you saw the ducks?


He said I was special. Where
did he drive you? I thought
Mrs Rice was going to pick
you up that day? I went
with your friend. Did he
touch you? He held my hand.


Anywhere else? Della shook
her head. He said I was pretty
and had nice legs. Her mother’s
heart thumped. Am I pretty?


Yes you are, but he shouldn’t
have said so. Why not? He
didn’t mean it nicely. Why?

Because he shouldn’t tell
you that. Why? Because he’s
no right to say you’re pretty.


You say I’m pretty. I love you.
He said I was pretty and had
nice legs. Did he touch your legs?
No he just looked at them.
Nice legs he said and nice eyes.


Have I got nice legs and eyes?
Yes you have but he shouldn’t
say so. You’re angry again.


Not with you. Seems like me.

It’s not. Seems like. I’m not.
Seems like. Never get in his
car again. Della looked at
the sky. I won’t. It looked like rain.

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All undone,
as he does,


Ingrid knows,
every time


picks on her,


nothing new,
but she knows


even when


the wounds go
and pain stops,


it will come
like seasons


once again.
Her mother


is too weak
to stop him,


too frightened
to say boo


or say no,
and as she


walks over
the bombsites


with her friend


to his talk


of brave knight
fighting bad


with sharp sword
or strong bow,


or share his
bag of sweets


or soft drinks,
in London’s


50’s streets,
being his


high lady
in distress,


or be there
by her side,


9 years old
as she is


but seeming
much older,


his friendship

and sharing


and boyhood
Robin Hood


sort of love
and sharing,


makes the days
of darkness


of wounding


and her mind

much bolder.



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watches through
a thin gap
in the dark


brown curtains
her sister
much older
in the bed


holding tight
to her tall
spiv boyfriend
and kissing


his thick lips
then his ears
which even
nine year old


finds quite gross
it takes all
her childish


not to know
what the show
is about


she looking
through the gap
sees the spiv
put his hand


on the nude
buttocks of
her sister


looks away
looks out at
the green grass
and the flats


and windows
the giggles


and snorty
sounds she hears
from the bed
behind her


behind dark
brown curtains
how the heck
she got trapped


behind there
in her games
the window


was a stage
and she a
child actress


to begin
when her big
sister came
tiptoeing in


with the spiv
while hiding
unseen there


hid her feet
and stealthily
had her peek


now she sees
pigeons walk
or kids play
with skip rope


or football
or cowboys
and Injuns
but behind


the curtains
on the bed
game is played


two actors
in combat
by the sounds
her sister


makes beyond
but innocent


puts her hands
to cover
her small ears
watching kids


play their games
and joyfully
run about


whatever makes
her sister
giggle soft
then loudly
laughing shout.

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