There were times

There were times
often coinciding with the end of an eight hour studio shift
when I would listen to the radio late into the night and drift
lying near motionless on the floor like a sedated madman
blowing cigarette smoke up towards the broken ceiling fan
paint stains on my clothes from all those abstract years
of city sound and landscapes that still buzzed in my ears
and out beyond the window past the fire escape ladders
tall cranes would cast their ugly shadowy gallows
along the graffitied brick and timbered warehouse walls

There were times then
when all the world but me was silently sleeping
and not even the birds had alarm called the new morning
I felt alive then as if electricity was coursing through me
as if the needle I had long forsaken had once again been
and found my vein and wrapped me in its calm serenity
a bright red bikini sunset throbbing with Rothko intensity
Kathy, Jack, Frank, Sylvie, Jerry, WB and Charlie B with his lowlife cheap tricks
on the road down the coast cruising in search of mind bending kicks
Florida, Arizona, Tijuana, the famous coast to coast bar crawl

Yes, those were the times
but we knew they weren’t to last, we sought our separate ways
Bill to Kansas, he said living there was a helluva lot cheaper these days
and less violent despite the stash of guns and ammo he kept
for hunting and shooting and for clearing his debts
or killing tooled up rednecks when the day of judgement came, we’d joked
in letters and on postcards that kept the fires of friendship stoked
Kathy and I to New York until that mess of crazy didn’t work out
Jerry and Frank to California’s Laurel Canyon hideouts
Jack the jazz-fuelled wanderer, well, he was in it for the long haul

And those were the times
when we honestly believed we would change the whole goddamn world
when we marched with Anti-Vietnam War banners unfurled
from Greenwich Village to the Golden Gate Park
from Washington DC to Washington State we left our marks
on celluloid, vinyl, paper, pavement, tenement, in space
on canvas and Polaroid Andy caught almost every angle, every face
and blended fact with his fiction, his pop with his art
but it was all too much for poor Sylvie’s heart
the talons that clenched, the babes that bawled

Yet those times were
and forever will be indelibly tattooed upon my subconscious
in psychedelic dreams tripping with a lyrical lusciousness
and it is why I lie here with poetry and jazz and art alive within me
here on this apartment floor motionless and carefree
the voice of the late night deejay a lone performance
at this very minute, this hour, this life of mine, of no real importance
I am lucky to have dodged death’s unholy harpoons to tell my tale
like Ahab and his godforsaken avenging whale
these lines I think, I breathe, I gift, I scrawl.

 

for National Poetry Day:
https://nationalpoetryday.co.uk/

 

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