Sitting pretty in panda pyjamas
Cotton. Yellow. Puerile.
At 22. In his apartment, looking down on Cork city.
Morning news bulletin. Dead dog.
Cannibalised by children on an English council estate.
“That’s what the end of organised religion leads to”
his sister declared, to no one in particular.
As I seeped quietly into my cornflakes.
He smirked, drinking his coffee.
All talons and teeth.
Him. The age I am now.
His friends were older. Mountainous. Infinite.
And I remember them all.
Dole days uphill to St. Luke’s.
Pilgrimage for Beamish and Murphys.
Thursday club Friday arse.
One always carried a Dunnes Stores bag.
One had a tattoo all round his ear ( I never saw anyone who looked so much himself.)
One hadn’t a tooth in his head, made money writing romance novellas.
One told me I could take over the town but he wouldn’t advice it.
One had wolves in his eyes and god knows what festering inside his head.
Fed us Marlboro’s and got in the rounds.
Walked us home, loaned us books.
Life swallowed me up quicker than those nights.
Still my mind goes this way and that way,
Opening and shutting doors seeking something I left back with them.
Something I was told.
Something I should be heeding.
And I remember her, not much older than I am now.
A jezebel. A shrew. A muse.
Propping up the polished bar,
With just enough exposed,
Small mounds riding high on ribs,
Teasing bar tenders,
Laughing in the darkest corners of The Mutton.
Admired not trusted,
Gifted with unsigned paintings.
She drank whiskey neat,
draping herself around The Oval, like a siren on the rocks.
Past heavy velvet curtains,
under the namesake ceiling, once fallen in.
Her reflection in every bottle,
distorted by the bar mirrors.
The heart of the place torn clean out by her.
I don’t miss the one from Berlin.
With the handlebar moustache
and barbed wire tattoo.
Black beret artfully slanted,
As he blew smoke rings through me.
We sat alongside other long haired boys in dark bars
Nursing warm Berliners and Jack Daniels.
Our eyes red raw
Stale smoke clinging fiercely to us.
I loved his vanity.
We showered together
He cleaned his feet meticulously
Lifting them as a black smith
For daily inspection.
Licking his chops
Ever the cat who got the cream.
He rolled me cigarettes,
from an enormous Peblo tobacco pouch
Holding the filters in his teeth.
Pinching. Rolling. Licking.
Papers on his lips.
My translator and navigator
Guiding me with his princely posture,
Held. Flicked. Dragged.
Two hedonists drawing one another in.
I miss cigarettes.
But I miss myself more.
Rising naked before him from the mattress
To perch on the window ledge
To watch the street below with my morning cigarette.
That first inhalation like coming up for air.