Few Never Envy
All I have: this shabby room
carpet muddy umber,
thin beige curtains pile
like luminous mosquito nets
over the draughty window-pane.
A lacquered table’s centre-piece
where I eat cold meals, scrimp an aim
inkling in a typewriter.
Plastic clatter of tone-deaf keys
scores each curtained, fiction-night:
a blind mind tinkling ivories.
Breaks spent on a spineless bed;
fingers brush the woodchip Braille,
step across the blue-tack path,
trip to creak of banister-rail.
I stare up at a blanched Van Gogh
by the toothpaste-spattered sink;
the ticking of the crippled clock
decides it isn't time to think;
I rise to wash: chalky water
chokes out to the rusty squeak
of the stiffer tap; over my shoulder
a back-to-front Thirty Bob A Week
reflects in the mirror that traps me.
Smoking soothes as doubts unroll.
My only other luxuries: tea
and sleeping pills when I get my dole
of hardship maintenance that feeds
my lapsed Protestant shame
(though I was born a Catholic
I'm English all the same).
Few never envy others' lives
with their ambitions in arrears;
only thoughts that telescope
help one cope – focused years
blur the edges of fogged progress.
Lungs fangled for spearmint fags
purse their pockets. Abstracts heap
like half-p’s in the money bags.
Alan Morrison © 2001/2006/2008
First published in Don't Think of Tigers (The Do Not Press, 2001)