Portrait of a Man Without Ambition 

Potato wedges ordered for the 157th time this year
A waiter delivers them lankily, extra ketchup, peri peri
Sprinkled isolation
Calories

More inaction follows on the walk back, a child smothers his side
With a melting ice cream and selfish smirk, privileged brat with a mouth

A sky clears scantily, words drain
Onto tar as the walk dissolves into a bench
Looking onwards the football game scatters
Into sounds that lull the mind eschewing freshness

At the corner a car brings a friend from seven years before
Slick shirt, ironed trousers, money condensed into a card
How are you, he asks, without eye contact
Fine he says, no really, I’m fine, with a dagger in his back

Night arrives and shuns the square, warm photos
Hang on the wall as love stored for later
Later when the days get bleaker
And unfinished stories heavily linger
More days waiting for the waiter 

Hanging Around

Terrific glazed pork ribs
Superb shot of gin
Night without a mask
Badwords painting walls
Unclean microwave
Enters the girl who deserted you
Her eyes
Your eyes
Pathetic excuses
Shot of gin

Brewing my tea much later once the horde left
Still one browses around looking for a chance
Left you alone a few years ago, I said, again
Leave me again if you wish, she said, half undressed 

Cafe, circa 2011

sorry
said the poet, lingering around
looking at a stained tea-cup where
his lips once touched, in steam,
his nose
immersed

…unpaid, half-done, finished
allow me to leave, said the poet
fishing around the outskirts with his glance

arrives the crook, crutches cancelled
as he retires into a chair – his shadows
waving a cigarette

the counter opens to commotion

the poet’s account heavier; he’ll be back
says the crook
what you offer is tea, which everyone does
but what you provide is drama, which no one else does

refill please

28

pasted on walls are posters new and old
of movies never watched by any of us
at least not as of late, not after
we crossed 28, what a bore it is now
dipping organic tea bags in tall offices
wearing shirts like uniforms and agreeing
with people who we’d otherwise punch around
even the pigeons at the windows
smirk and agree
and then there’s always that one corner
where the cigarettes released by the tea seller
becomes a cove of regrets, don’t meet me there
i’ll be so embarrassed and so will you
we’ll awkwardly shake hands and then
formally introduce what we’re up to
with a nod, a half-smile, looking-away-eyes
buildings continue to grow taller though,
inside them, more mirrors, more
bored shits like us
walking in perfumed sadness
organised air conditioned everydayness
assigning us nicknames and email addresses
that are somehow always busy

Night, City. Circa 2013.

a half moon shimmers on wet streets
occasionally killed by coughing cars

a vinyl spreads an old song to the square
soon meeting its cousins somewhere between windows

lights flicker on the deserted footbridge
its face softly tapped by kitten paws

under it the slow river carries the day
away into the sea with new stories and complaints
caressed by a stream of boats and ships
it falls asleep under the gaze of night nomads

Witness

I the music that engulfed me first in the dim bar, is
the substance I use to break myself into a thousand parts
while I age carefully from younger to young
and then maybe, not so young
the rustle of brushes skimming cymbals, married
to the sound of a wailing saxophone
I witnessed it all
through the reducing horizon of the beer glass
my head sleeping over the damp table, my pants
whose pockets filled with unaccounted coins
and the notes I would later use to pay
for your cigarettes and chicken puffs
even share them while we switched between channels
on an outdated television surrounded by books
surrounded by shelves and more shelves
hanging on the walls paintings you made as a child
your clothes hanging outside the window whose pane
you sprinkled with a long joint, spiked
with teenage theatrics and young lust
and aromas of the kitchen scattered with leftovers
the music that engulfed me at first, is the last
the very last
time I ever heard someone tell me I’m lovely
I was told I’m a kid with the brain of a man
but the smile of a child
while you were a girl with the eyes of a woman
I witnessed it all
through the years of being a boy
reduced to an adult

Places

I fell in love with you first
At the tea stall behind the 800 year old temple
And again a few steps later
At its ornamented entrance
Three days later, I fell in love with you
In the Thursday market strewn with rare berries
And the smell of decayed woodwork
From the nearby ruins of old houses
Over the years
I loved you even more, as you are
At the food stalls outside the square public garden
Sparkling with sounds of schoolchildren
I kept loving you as I walked through
Splayed offal of cut buffalo parts
Ridden by the stench of slaughter
And the churches and mosques that I stepped in
I loved you in all of them, on every wall, every unlit corner
I fall in love with you again and again
Touching every dusty surface in the old city
I sense that is where your heart and bones are
The rest of these cold, growing suburbs
Are just your obesity, the outer fat
I will choose to let them go

16.1.17