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Poems from All Kinds of Disorder

(Ghost Trails/Stray Dogs)

Look where it comes again...
like a fish-hook in a duffle-coat
bearing a brown envelope;
on streets we share
between park-lake and sea-shore
our trails cross too seldom
to be familiar, too often
to avoid repetition.

He is a celebrated playwright.
He launches into theories of catastrophe
already trumpeted in broadsheets,
why he is neglected here,
only Europe pays his dues.
I am a half-made man
neurotic with metaphors
and shuffling the blues.
I want to ask him what he thinks
of the smooth-tongued osteopath
whose hands we share,
eczema that brinds our children,
and the Hallet lad
who once played football with,
but last month mugged his son,
in his new role striking
to get enough crack.

I need to keep my feet.
Yodelling from peak to peak
where the air is thin
gives me vertigo.

But great ones ply the art
of being ghost-like and offensive.
They move only as they choose,
wherever you go; lean into
the space and leave you dislocated.
Their engagement is a kind
of absence; like newborn Christians
or armed gossips, your first breath
inspires them; you are stage-hand,
tout, someone arrived too late.

So I cede another patch
full of his staccato
and the ring of his bad breath.
As I slope to the day-centre
and he parades to the post-office
I remind myself we have met
(to tell my wife when she comes home)
though, in fact, we never do.
All he leaves are echoes,
feints; you don't reach him;
he passes; for, the truth is,
he cannot touch, he cannot touch.