I’m ever so still as I look at the room:
one mattress, stained and folded on the floor;
great stretches of vacant, unpapered wall-space;
a radiator I want to fit my hand round;
and an ashtray piled with cigarette butts –
a hunted creature’s squalid nest,
yellow newspaper spread round the mattress
as if for protection.

‘Well, what do you think?’ he asks me.
‘I don’t like your shaggy hair,’ I almost say,
‘and you stink of failure.’

No baby crying, which surprises me,
and a view on the street I can see myself looking at,
coffee mug in hand, rain soft on the window.
I can hear the rain now, I think.

And I’ll sit on the steps in the summer,
smoke some fags, watch the people pass,
kids yelling up through the broken railings,
mothers pushing prams,
and not think about that ashtray, always full,
growing up like a horrible bush;
I need to think less.

And as I’m backing out the room,
being positive, feeling naked,
feeling something giving,
nobody gives anything for free these days,
especially not love,
he’s asking me what my name is again,
and I cannot speak.

June 21st, 2004 by