The Things I leave Behind
(for the Scottish Poets)
I saw you dressed like a Matisse
In the rain on Easter Road, all passion
And words, all beauty-smudged mascara.
I saw you in a cage
Your tattered soul
Howling at a ragged moon.
I saw you with your typewriters
In the shadows of
Your sister’s eyes matched yours.
I saw you lost on Leith Walk
Hailing a cab to take you back
To the land of punsets.
I saw you first walking across a room,
A room of then strangers
And I wanted to ask you something.
I don’t remember what it was.
I remember a flat
You showed me your bed
There was hesitation on my part
And the chance was lost.
I saw you sat at a bar
With fiddle music and poetry
You introduced me to your lover
But not your girlfriend.
I saw you huddled in a corner
Smoking, all those years ago
And didn’t crack your accent
You left your hat in my flat
After we were careless with our bodies.
I never got to say much after that.
We drank talisker until you couldn’t stand
And that was our last night together or our first;
The circumstances evade memory.
You showed me a room full of books
And salvaged leather, your hands had
Worked for a long time. You are made
Of forthrighteousness and long memory.
You tilted your body in my direction
And then left, returning later, but only once
To see if you’d left anything of me behind?
I saw you crouched on a step
And pissed on a stage.
Tiny as a teardrop’s teardrop
Before joy engulfed you.
I saw you clutching wine
You sidestepped my questions
But I already guessed where your heart
On our first meeting
The first thing you said was a lie
And as it happens so was the last.
We exchanged menthol cigarettes for a while
And got drunk too often not to become Eskimo twins.
I went to your flat and your advances were obvious
I ran from you because I knew I would lose myself in you.
And I did. It has taken many years to find true North.
We were like two classic cars
In a race towards that cliff
Firebird and Cadillac.
Talking to you at Stanza
You were blunt and I disliked you
For not being as honest as you pretended.
When you walked into the reading
Everyone turned into lotharios.
You walked straight up to me,
Kissed me and held me long enough.
That photograph of you
Standing in a doorway
In another decade. I could see why.
We were unlikely
Rich and poor
Happy and Sad
The unlikely is always most likely.
You were someone else’s
And still are. But we laughed a lot
And you linked my arm because you knew
I needed some sort of love.
There was some talk of God
But your kindness couldn’t be lost
Behind something as general as that.
You were like the brother I lost
And the brother I found.
I see you riding your bike
Into the darkness. I would buy you light
If I could.
You sent me a video
Of you dancing I have no idea why
We had a daughter together.
Our kisses broke my lip
Blood tied us and separated us.
We attract crazy people whenever we smoke.
You are the gentlest person I have ever met
How did you survive for so long
And not become cruel?
You cooked me a meal,
Undressed and later
Cut your wrists for him
But I took you to hospital.
You were always hidden, I didn’t take the time
To find out why or from what.
Thinking too much is your forte
Intensity is your shield.
A calamitous combination.
I watched your back breathing on a campsite
The stars were misaligned, I was drunk
And you were waiting.
You were so damaged,
I should not have tried to fix you
I knew when I did, you would leave.
There is nothing I wouldn’t do for you
And so I do nothing.
You were older than you looked
And the sweetest, gentlest waitress, poetry
Could have ever written.
We slept together I think it was Autumn,
Before you told me you had slept
With someone else and realisation
Followed like Winter.
You hurt me but didn’t notice
I expect you do that a lot.
But then I never said.
You offered to take me urban fox hunting
I declined but the offer was genuinely warm.
You are blessed with grace.
With you I got so lost
But now I know where I am
And where I am going.
You wore an antique fox stole
For coffee on Easter Road
I liked you for being unafraid
Never knew what to make of you
Possibly a paper hat or a bird.
Not a poem.
These are the things I leave behind.
Which are never left behind
Your faces in a room looking
At a face on a stage.
Words on a page.
(a poem of observations on poets who shall remain anonymous but you can have fun trying to spot yourself in here or speculate who they are about or drive yourself insane by imagining they are all about you. Each bit is about a different person. )