I Am Untouchable

Looking at my hands, fingers,

wondering at all the things

that linger there. These hands

have touched so much,

held on and let go, and

now I know that they may hold

the end of those I love.

So I will pray, though not to God.

My hands will meet

just as they should,

in supplication to the greater

good, for hands together touch

each other and no other.

Touching me untouches you.

leaves you isolated, inviolate,

and safe. Keep it that way.

Don’t touch me now, don’t

ask for trouble. Keep your

hands to yourself.

I am untouchable.

This Old Man

This old man, he played on

until all his mind had gone.

With a tip-tap, slip-slap,

where’s the dog and bone,

send him to the old folks home.

In her pearls, his old girl

watched him as he lost this world.

With a tip-tap, slip-slap,

on the dog and bone,

asking for some care at home.

All alone, on her own

his old girl went daft also.

With a tip-tap, slip-slap,

get the dog and bone,

take her to a different home.

On their own, separate zones,

each went down the slippery slope.

With a tip-tap, slip-slap,

lost the dog and bone,

each one died but did not know.

This old pair, past all cares,

burned and scattered, no one there.

With a tip-tap, slip-slap,

buried dog and bone,

everybody dies alone.

The Sickening

Closer comes the sickening,

the withering, the reckoning.

Closer, now, and closer still.

It always has, and always will,

be there for you, to scare for you

and bare for you your bones.

A pox is on the world today,

perhaps a curse, as some would say.

No, no, it’s just a new disease

that spreads and roams with deadly ease

to mums and dads, and older lads

and older ladies too.

The peril of the world today

is that we’re all six steps away

from every other, everywhere

from over here to over there,

and now we’re all ascloseasthis,

our sickness spreads without a kiss.

It only takes a sneeze or cough

to see your friends and neighbours off,

so stay at home and wait it out,

there is no need to run about,

just save yourself and watch the fun.

Something wicked this way comes.

I Almost Understand

Standing on a footbridge.

The ring road below it, traffic from out of

town streaming along the dual carriageway

from somewhere to somewhere else. In the pointless

morning, cars crawl slowly or stop beneath the bridge,

the rush hour standstill. People see me standing there,

alone. They look up and wonder why I’m there.

When I look at them, they all just look away.

Hours later, at the end of the day, after sunset, it’s different.

When I look at them now, under the street lights,

they look back, and keep looking as they pass beneath me,

swivelling round in their seats to keep me in view,

the solitary figure standing at the edge of the bridge.

I can tell what they’re thinking.

I can smell the diesel stink and hear the rolling roar.

I can almost feel the metal weight of them, the cars

and trucks and buses and vans, speeding along

on the cold, hard, unmoving black macadam

all those unforgiving, heartless feet below.

It’s when I look down that I get it.

Alone, in the dark, on the bridge,

I almost see why people do it.

I almost understand.

A Lonely Place

A comfortable seat

wipe-clean green faux leather

in a swept clean hall

in a busy bright shopping mall.

People pass by chattering

to each other or their phones,

sometimes to themselves.

There is the beat of faint music

and the puzzle of fainter smells,

perfumes and food and the sweat

of overheated people searching

for bargains they don’t need.

I have never felt

more lonely.

In Bangalore

Once upon a time in Bangalore

I lived in a Palace, and from there

I could see a world I would

never know. The rules of the road

we’re indicative. The lives of

the herd were imperative.

A greeting was a meeting

of hearts and minds and souls,

of simplicity and complicity

in the life and love we all share.

There is no brighter beauty

than the darkness of their hair,

or the brown-eyed brilliance

of the faces I saw there.

Outside in, I saw the thing

that makes me love them still.

It is the will to be a friend

until the end of time.

I have never known

a sweeter people

in all my life.

Radio Head On

Late at night, when I’m driving,

with my radio head on, I have

a sense that all the world

a there before me, and all

I have to do is keep going

until I reach wherever it is

that I am heading. I love

the quiet night, the way the

street lights and headlamps

open shadows to show the unlit

ones they hide, the robbers,

the lovers, the night workers,

and others, covered in blackness,

smothered and blessed by

its dark kiss. Sometimes I feel

that I should not stop, that I

should drive on until I drop

off the edge of this world,

listening to the exit music

for my singular, insular film.

But the road, like time,

goes on and on. It is a means.

There is no end to it,

the tarmac black, the way,

the life, the road ahead.

May it always rise

with you.