Between Contracts

The weeks constrict, pythons around my ribs,

under which the turbid valves of the heart

pump on with blind certainty.

Dreams of flapping wings outside windows.

A nest of telephone calls, letters, deposits,

routines in which I can submerge peacefully

and integrate with process, a limbed machine

conferring golden fries, cigarettes, tins of ointment.

Money is running out. No more dappled coffees, queuing with confident secretaries,

agency workers, neutered parakeets blinking in light.

In the engine room, plans are hammered,

pounded, blunted under blind iron

by agents with invisible hands, by necessity.

I do not want to know of life denied,

love cankered, ratty days, autumn grit on tired streets, sparrows tumbling in the cold wind.

Collecting myself with effort,

I use dead time to scan the creamy newspaper.

Everywhere is the code of violence.

Clotted blood. Broken bottles. A leaf storm of receipts

before the money machines of K Road.

Shouting and percussive, a Saturday night street is a cyclonic eye of thrusting fists

and fish eyed munters on the piss, deadly serious.

We avoid it. We avoid the blank gaze of dawdling homeboys.

We avoid long haired men with ruined faces and grubby suits.

We avoid smiling evangelists and devotees of Lord Krishna.

We avoid them all, and concentrate on our table, our jars of beer.

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