Outside the café
sits the elderly gentleman
at the solitary table
that wobbles when you lean on it.
And he sits sipping coffee
with a thin cigarette
perched between his wrinkled finger-tips.
Across the road
a dog is tied to a lamp-post
outside the newsagents
that is also an off-licence,
owned by the brothers
whose religion prohibits alcohol,
but they drink it anyway,
and on this quiet afternoon
they stare out the open door
at the black Labrador,
and sniffing at the scent
of next-door's takeaway,
or the outdoor butcher's stall.
And driving by are the
two blue-eyed boys,
with the red-headed girls,
in the car;
with music loud-
bass-heavy and beat-driven.
Off to the local cinema
to find a film
to get them in the mood
in the back-seats, where they fondle.
Within a week
they will swap partners-
looking for cocaine
or whatever they can get.
Maybe their parents' rum
bought on holiday
a decade ago,
untouched and dust-coated
at the back of the liqour cabinet.
to get them drunk.
for them to fuck to,
with music loud-
beat-heavy and bass-driven.
And outside walks alone
who never made it.
His face beneath beard and scars;
his hands beneath fingerless gloves, tremble.
Feet blistered and hair itching;
skin dirty and clothes stiff.
Eyes bloodshot and jaw worn from grinding-
at least three teeth missing
many more black and yellow
guarding a breath so putrid.
Cold and desperate and hungry
and aching from the tired
he will never sleep away.
Ignored by the smoker with his coffee.
Hated by the shop-owner he tried to steal a loaf from.
Heckled by the teenagers, bored,
proving their bravado,
but loved by the dog
who shares his hunger-pains.
Walking the roads alone,
with pride long forgotten
he's now miles away from Broadway-
Miles from Broadway, without a home.
Sunday, 15 May 2011
Wednesday, 11 May 2011
"Everybody wants work. There's no work left."
That's the message I overheard and it was a pretty apt one, too. I sat alone on a bench in the late spring sunshine, surrounded by several misfits, and I could do nothing to prevent myself from being privy to their words of wisdom that they passed on to each other.
"My mother's from Austria, she moved here in the seventies and gave birth to me in King's College, raised me in Peckham." I couldn't help but feel that was the most interesting anecdote that he could offer from the back catalogue of his life-story. Next.
"She left me"
"She left me. Lucy left me, man."
"Don't say that, man."
"Don't say that about her."
"Well, what do you want me to say?"
"Okay, well let's go get laid."
"Fuck you, man. You're a fuckin' shit. I'm sitting here, heart in pieces trying to open up to you. I'm trying to tell you how shitty I feel and all you can think about is sex. You're meant to be my friend, man. You're a fucking dog. Cut off your cock and balls and you're nothing. Fuck you, man. Fuck you. I loved her and she's gone. So fuck you!"
"Whoa, whoa. I'm sorry. I didn't mean it. Are you okay?"
"No. But I will be. Let's just go find some girls and get laid, yeah?"
"Yeah, but first we get drunk."
"Deal. I still mean it though. You are a fuckin' shit, and we're gonna need some luck finding girls around here in the middle of the day."
"I know. I know. Well let's move, it's your turn to buy."
"Fuck you, man."
They shuffled off together and I turned my attention elsewhere. Opposite from me, a man sat alone talking on his mobile telephone. I noticed he only had one leg. Not that it made a difference. He nattered on, "Well that's no good. Call them back and if there's still no joy, I'm going to the police." It seemed like it was an unnecessary reaction considering the apathy of his tone and, as a result, I wasn't entirely sure I had heard him right, but with only half the conversation available to me, I hardly cared. What he said could never make total sense and I really didn't fancy wasting my time trying to decipher it all. Move on. Next misfit.
A lady sat a few yards to my right, violently dragging on a cigarette and mumbling incomprehensibly to herself. Then she would twitch a little, tousle her hair with her free hand, inhale again on her cigarette and continue to mumble. I was equally curious and terrified. I watched her from the corner of my eye knowing she couldn't see where I was looking through my dark sunglasses. They are a great accessory for people-watching when you find yourself alone. Sadly they don't work as well in the winter months - people get suspicious.
The only person nearby not making any noise was a middle-aged builder. Sitting in just his work-shorts, with headphones in ears and eyes closed, he was absorbing every ounce of sunlight available. I guessed he was asleep. He was certainly my favourite.
I didn't want to have to listen to any more of their nonsense, and I wasn't going to. Shifting my body to reach for my headphones and squeeze them out of my jean pocket, the old bench creaked beneath me and shifted suddenly, causing the first precious sips of my pint to splash onto the table. The puddle would quickly evaporate in the sun and never make it into my blood stream. I quickly gulped a mouthful or two down to ensure that such an accident wouldn't be repeated. I felt amateur for waiting so long for my first wet taste, but this drink had to last and so I was taking my time and savouring it. I was in no rush. I had no work to get to.
Tuesday, 3 May 2011
Hi, I'm Peter Tettrick. As far as life goes, I'm a pretty uninteresting character; I'm just trying to get by. A drunk once told me that my name fitted my face. Peter Tettrick was the best way to describe how I looked to her. It was nonsense, but somehow I understood what she meant. I have sharp features. A strong jaw line. A pointy nose. High cheek-bones. My name is quite sharp, too. It's those 't's that do it. Well, right now I find myself back in that same bar where the drunkard told me I resemble my own name. Here's to the foresight of my parents - I take a drink from my plastic container of flat beer, served at room temperature and cast my eyes towards the stage. A girl sits alone on a tall bar stool, guitar on lap and a harmonica hanging from her neck. I fell instantly. Her olive-skinned face was framed by a head of finely straightened long black hair and her eyes glimmered beneath the stage lights. I couldn't take my eyes off her. I watched her mouth intensely. The way her lips parted to reveal perfectly-straight white teeth and a smile. The words just fell out from between them in the form of a beautifully soulful voice. I was falling in love and growing hard. Watching her lips was causing me to stir. I had to snap out of it. I turned back to the bar to order another beer followed by a shot of tequila. I had to shake the thoughts that were dirtying my mind and dirtying the angel gracing the stage.