Ghost Café

Our Halloween masks reflected back
as we peer through that dusty glass
into the quiet gloom of the Ghost Café

If only the ghost waitress would take our order
‘large or small?’ she asks, well, I’m a medium
ghost chairs dragged across the ghost floor

And the clank of local steel set down
on delicately painted porcelain
bustling echoes bounce from peeling walls

People starting or restarting their little days
someone is eating, someone staring into space
someone there in spirit only

The tangled bead curtain splashes
each time the burly ghost chef passes
Chip-and-PIN fickle again as always

Unopened letters collect behind rusted shutters
a thick dust settles on every spout
Ghost landlord longs to collect the ghost rent

We keep our distance, don’t touch a thing
we stay at home, say ‘what a shame
nobody in the ghost café again’

The Ghost Café serves a passing trade
ghost shops, ghost pubs, the local haunts
ghost banks and ghost galleries

The Ghost Café looked alive for a moment
spectres flickering in the gutted ruins
another empty space now up for sale…

[2020]

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In The Light of The Evening

I work hard most days
hands all rough by six
ah, but it’s worth every callous
whatever’s needed
and when I’m done, I walk
right down the sea-front promenade
sip on a cup of something
so warm and so sweet
with those boats sailing in and out
in the lazy light of the evening

There forms a shape in the foam on my coffee
I see the outline of your nose and eyes
looking up at me
I wonder just how easily
all my hard work here could be dismantled
with just a few whispered words
wagged by your smiling tongue
just the softest touch of my fingers
along the youth of your skin
in the drunken light of the evening

There is infinite potential
of an infinite damage
in the arch of your eyebrow
in your heart-shaped pout
to capsize in your curves
would surely undo everything
so utterly
as you push your hair behind your ear
in the sticky light of the evening

Those ships keep coming in and going out
I tip the cup back, stand to leave
I work so hard to keep from writing letters
telling how much I long to have you
but I do what it’s right to do
I do what is right for you
button up my coat
walk slow and long across the sand
in the mournful light of the evening
the light that you loved

Walk you off
in the sorrowful light of the evening
the light that you loved…

[2016]

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Crooked Cafe

I used to hate this part of town
After London
it felt like stepping back in time
as if all our momentum to the capital
had been lost
these shops with their hand-painted signs
I didn’t recognise the names
they’re not triplicated on every high street

And now I sit
in the Crooked Café
the waitress always tries to remember my ‘usual’
but I love that she never quite gets it right
gives us something to laugh about
breaks the ice
as I sit alone and eat
drink my tea and sketch my little lines

The walls adorned
with guitars and records
someone really loves the eighties
the food is good
the best I’ve found ‘round here
the perfect way to start a Saturday
it’s always busy
people drinking coffee
and talking through their lives
there’s material everywhere
for a writer-thief like me

Afterwards
I’ll drift down the lanes
between the crooked dwellings
past out-houses, slate roofs, shared yards
neat boxes all pushed so close together
clinging to the hills
I’ve learned to love this feeling
just absorb the history
let the thinning shadow of industry
that’s still cast across this city
seep into me

But for now
I sit by the window
stare out into the old street
feel the season a little more keenly
so grateful to have found my peace here
where I can stop and think
and write my little lines…

[2019]

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