Monday, February 28, 2011

23:00hrs Gatwick to Berlin

The kid on the seat behind mine
tells his mom, 'this plane is going
to go hit the stars,' I think of the
likelihood, Chris, of it happening,
and smile, but on a night like this,
it seems, I know exactly what this
kid means. None of it happened,
though, on this flight, we gave the
stars a miss, reached by midnight,
and the last that I saw of him, that
kid, was on the walkway at Tegel,
half in sleep, so what if he could
not keep his promise, Berlin will
have to do, this time, for the stars,
will it not, Chris, tell me tonight,
will Berlin not do for Jupiter an' Mars?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ol' Man Tom at Hampstead Heath

'Ol' man Tom,' April joked,
seeing her college friend after years,
'Not all together old,' Tom replied
- fifty-two, but trying to sound
younger - they had come to meet
at Hampstead Heath (it used to
be their running ground at UCL,
he had rung her after years) the
wind blew, Tom shivered a little,
April took out her cigarette pack,
and rolled, 'one to keep you warm,
will you, my poor Tom's a cold?'
He smiled, she, canny, had cited
his favorite play, no awkwardness
now, no, not today (she was his
first love when he was twenty)
she painted now, and got paid
for it, he wrote, an' once in a while
got laid for it, she was his senior
at Slade, 'not bad,' Tom thought,
'she still remembers how I love
King Lear' - at school, she had
taken him under her wing, but
his love had been, as first loves
are, an unrequited thing, yet
once sown, their friendship had
(knowin' no other way) grown.
'Do you remember,' she said,
'we had made a song, walking
down the Gower Street, near
the school, Tom is April's, April's
, now all these years, and
again this heath,' Tom added,
again from Lear, 'and not all
together fool,' they laughed,
an' set about down to the pool,
the breeze blew soft over them,
April said, 'you have to meet her
Tom, she'll be here in a minute
or two, you'd like her, like you,
she's a writer,' her girlfriend, May,
Tom knew, but distracted, saw
how April's hair, white, grey,
reflected the evening light, and
just then when she had cited Lear,
he thought he could not take it,
would say, 'Can I hold you, April,
tight, this year, can I,' but did
not, for he saw her eyes turning
to where the pebble path went -
May, she was here, and Tom,
never too old to resent, now
quiet, would not say, 'How can
you, ever' he thought, 'come
between April and May?' The
three walked together, the girls
let Tom walk between them,
less like a man (a writer at
that) and more like a child,
the sun about to set, the black
birds now return, the heath
looks more wild, now, May,
always brisk, rushes ahead,
April holds her hand, 'careful
May, this heath's a bog, rained
yesterday, so slow down, dear,
it's bad,' Tom saw (they held
hands), he heard (she said 'dear,
it's bad') and suddenly, again,
Lear - 'O let me not be mad,
not mad, sweet heaven' - 'so slow
down, dear, it's bad' - 'Keep me
in temper,' Tom repeated to
himself, 'heaven, I would not
be mad,' 'It's late, and dark,' he
said ('pull yourself together,' he
thought) 'should we go to a pub,
it's almost seven, and get
our pints till we hit eleven?'
but May, pert, super sonic, not
listening to April rushed ahead
again, 'yes, I'll have a gin an' tonic,
and you?' but before they could
pick, brisk May, she slipped.
April stood laughing at her, an'
Tom, suddenly finding his foe
momentarily defeated, his
jealousy, it strangely depleted,
and he rushed to pick her up,
'new lovers of old friends should
always be treated with unusual
kindness,' so Tom, feeling more
at ease, gave his hand to May,
(he joked - 'here, her highness!')
she, quivering, held his, tight,
they got up, it was dark then,
their 3 shadows stood with
the trees, fading light, April
laughing, Tom and May, now
holding eachother's hands, what
strange places love brings us,
what strange lands, they -
now just 3 old folk, on the
brink of they know not what,
decide to go for another drink,
an' not that this, being old, has
given him a clue about love, or
made him bold, but with friends
who are on the same page - grey
but not too wise with age, living
but never hunting for gold, with
them, poor Tom, he's not too cold.

(Thanks to Inayat Anaita Sabhikhi)