(a Variation on I Looked Away)
He ducked between cars,
angling across the street,
one step ahead of the bus
Hurrying, mind elsewhere,
lost in scattered thought and
felt the tug at his shoulder
Excuse me? He looked surprised
I beg your pardon?
But I’m late, really got to run
You can’t be serious, not now
Serious. Yes, now
Surely you have the wrong fellow
Let’s talk about it first
Cup of coffee?
Yeah, coffee would be nice
They all want that
To talk about it first
Well, it seems the least you could do
Cream and sugar?
Yeah, now what’s this all about
Yeah, you know, why now, why me?
It’s just that I wasn’t expecting
No one ever does
Perhaps, but look here,
I suppose you have identification
Cryptic fellow. Not even papers?
Well, I must say, rather shabbily dressed
I mean, not even a crease in the trousers
That a problem to you?
Well, I suppose not, but it seems so . . .
Yes rather, I mean one expects
Well, an appointment. I mean this is a bit
much to take in, without an appointment
Well, in the abstract, of course I knew
So, here I am
Yes of course, this is so somehow un abstract
I mean this is here and now, no phone call first
No phone call
No knock at the door, you could have knocked
A little preparation would have been thoughtful
A lifetime to prepare
There you go again, in the abstract
There are some things I’ll need to attend to first
Easy for you to say, but I have obligations
At the very least, a letter to write, things to say
Should have said them
But who would know, who would ever expect
Well, what will they all think, when I’m gone so suddenly?
Not much comfort in that, certainly be a shock
Not so shocking
There will be tears, they’ll weep and wish me back
A few. Not many. Not for long
I’ll be missed, grieved for, agonized over
Well, I can’t bear the thought of not much and not for long
Not yours to bear
But I thought somehow it was all so important
Lot of that going around
Where are we going, what’s it like where we’re going?
You done with your coffee?
Not really, does it make a difference?
I could use another cup
Yeah, well me too, so answer me, what’s it like
Not supposed to say
Oh yes, well. Expect me to just come along then
And suppose I’m not ready, refuse to go and all that
Not an option
Let’s talk this through, is there a way around it
She’s slow bringing coffee
I mean are there loopholes, something to bargain away
You’ve been reading too much
I don’t suppose you’ve ever been bought off
You don’t have much
Yes well, remind me of that of course, but supposing
It always happens
They meet me and start supposing
Well, only natural, you do come as somewhat of a shock
Never really understood that
How the inevitable could shock
Okay, so I buy the bit, now what?
Show biz term, a kind of referential thing
So let’s get on with it then, where from here?
Yeah, I mean we can’t just keep drinking coffee
Thought you liked coffee
This poem is included in
THE SMELL OF TWEED
available here in print
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