The ‘60s postmark rots away
and I’m left in the latter day
so many years distant from you.
The pain of love was one I didn’t feel
before I turned thirty,
and happened to be walking home
from office work one day.
I wrote sports and you drove cars
outside the town’s hotspot.
Deemed too ugly for anyone’s girl
to be swept off her feet -
missing teeth, a bulbous brow,
and gaze forever glum -
the studs all felt secure,
pulling up beside
the valet in his cheap red coat.
But even if you were handsome
you couldn’t have returned a girl’s
least amorous advance.
I saw that, watching you.
Sometimes we know each other’s pain
without need of the thinking brain,
and also I’d seen you before
lingering outside the door
of a hidden bar.
We shared cigarettes and spoke
the secret language of the freak.
I gave you hotel money and said
to look out from the bar.
Soon enough I heard the knock, like lead
tipping a cowboy’s boot and kicked
against a car.
As quickly as men flee
you’d pushed your way in me
and so I thought I’d been murdered
until that rush of feeling came
and swept me like rich man’s cocaine
towards a bright-lit paradise.
I like to think I taught you, after that,
how urges can be met
with compassion. How men can treat
each other with kindness, and heat
a potent love outside the vaunted norm.
I told you you were beautiful
and that your dreams
were worthy of respect. You cried,
and then laughed when I didn’t laugh
at you, “for crying like a girl.”
It’s now gone fifty years and that old lie, that hate fell down to hell from heaven
back in nineteen sixty-seven,
still leaves me bitter as the lemons
growing on my tree.
What of nineteen sixty-five
when I last saw you, just alive,
attended by two parents who
had seen this day ten years away,
and got my autograph when I
reported that I’d seen you at
the various home games, and that
I’d mention you in my next article...
The 60s postmark rots away
but I can still read what’s inside,
simple and crude and capitalised,
each letter written as
if with flashing red lightbulbs.
I LUV U N HOAP I CAN SEE U AGEN.
Not since nineteen sixty-five
have I seen you or me alive,
nor has there been a perfect day
since I last shared a cigarette
with my ugly, and beautiful valet.