Plates

A kind of inaudible screeching.

What is that noise? Metal on metal? Train wheels crossing over tracks? Disks, metal disks…

Or plates, yes plates, plates spinning but rubbing, grinding on each other…

That’s the sound I mean.

The sound that won’t stop, because the plates won’t stop,

Won’t stop spinning,

Spinning at the thought of you,

Yours, your plates spinning at the thought of me,

So that all we can hear when we try to speak is the sound of this screeching,

And though I see your beautiful face, so unchanging, so eternal,

Silently looking at me, talking to me with that unmistakable voice of yours,

There is this sound of plates all the while,

Spinning, twisting, screeching metal plates,

Been spinning since some long-dead exchange that left a foul taste,

Some regrettable offence or unsettled wrong, some failure or fall from the ideal,

And who could stop them now, these plates, their sound?

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Walkman

“Hello again,” he said warmly, to himself,

Or to one of his selves.

The one who’d been waiting outside by the front gate since last night.

Who walked the dark, shiny streets, skipped over puddles,

Hurried furtively across junctions, under street lamps,

Night after night, walked and only ever walked,

Had walked the hills and clifftops in winds and rain,

And before that had walked along curbs and cracks in the pavement in time for tea,

Humming morning assembly hymns as he went,

Foreseeing so many meetings like these…

And off he went, together,

Extending his stride, filling his chest with still, frosty air,

Picking it up again, like yesterday.

Homeless

Would she wonder, as I did, right after our jubilant exchange,

Two strangers so happy to see each other,

Right after we’d met in front of that magnificent derelict house just round the corner,

Right after she’d stopped and said “Been empty five years” and I’d exclaimed “Really, do you know why?”

And we’d gone on a while, her in pink-edged jogging clothes and dangling earphones,

On her way out onto the empty weekend streets all to herself,

Would she wonder, as I did, back on tracks,

What would become of that bright, unscheduled moment?

Who, out of the two of us, would keep it safe?

No Bleeding in Public

There simply being an “other” at all, hurt him.

Just to contemplate it, spoilt everything.

The other, who’d insist on saying hello,

Forcing him to look out into the world and show himself for a few seconds,

Embarrass himself with a half-hearted account when it could have been avoided so easily,

Even just to answer his name was to reopen a wound though he’d deadened to the pain

He’d never learned the trick of not bleeding in front of others,

Having for the millionth time the lining torn that would at the earliest chance regrow

Over the inside of his eyes and ears.

All he wanted was to be left alone,

Within the gossamer of his thoughts

And never to be stirred again,

Nor cut again.