Two Roads

I can't help it, I see the girl on the pavement,
her brown skin and hair lustrous; when her eyes
turn to the right she looks disturbed. Her calves
and arms are too fat for a waist that small.

Elsewhere, the bogeymen pedlars of baubles are
abounding in felony and lies. But I fall into
their arms every time, doublevisioned. A hungry
child to mummy with the jaffacake jar.

You know I know this town and I squeeze its innards
For spirit and find an iniquity. The dancers stunted.
Several times I have sketched out a Valentine
plot, though will my subject be lust or massacre?
I don't feel. But Calvary Park could be the venue.

There to escape the sanitised version of myself,
where the Gypsy violinists in my heart have long since
packed up the dogs and the fire, sold the
merrypainted caravan and gone to ply
their swirling flourishes in the blacktie brasseries
of Budapest for goulash and florins.

At least I can afford the ancient-looking roses,
Grandma's flowers, and clinical white lilies
on offer at the barrowboy's kiosk at the
station. I could get some and present them
to the mysterious, beautiful slim ones, that stretch
out in the sun at the foot of the cedars.
They would love it as they love themselves.

Then there is the army shop neutered, that sells
gunmetal leathermen and helmets,
fearsome and camouflaged, run by a geek.
He always alone in there. It looks cold.
He taps the counter nervously as I pass.
I have means to do business with him.

Either, or. Either or. So it is in every corner,
From Mount Ephraim to Mount Sion.

The old seems so old here, the young so young,
and it feels like it's more through luck than merit
that we are all not hanging from wheels
placed as a warning a few feet from the
town gates, like sparrows in a forest fire.

But perhaps my high-cheekboned Beatrice is
worlds away, perhaps she is stood there just
over the way, where the arcade splits us,
and the sun floods our faces, and the prayers
that I fire in my mind at an illusory wild
will be played back to me and drown me in
their truth, or what good there is; perhaps the
redemption, when it comes, when it comes,
or the judgement, will surprise even me,
here, now, at the Hooper's roundabout,
by the sheet music shop, staring at the wine
merchant that closed some obscure years ago,
as buses grumble and heave with the weight of it all.

Oli Hudson, 28
High Brooms