Old Compton St
This pair of poems appeared over thelast week on my blog. I wanted to put them side by side because they belong together as a tribute to Old Compton St, which in a comment I called something ridiculously overblown like “some kind of energising but enervating gyr that sucks in teenagers and only spits them out into the hearse, sometimes after 60 years; sometimes after 60 days”
I had coffee in Bar Soho
and imagined you were joining me later.
I had my usual espresso
and ordered you a capuccino so they’d come with different spoons
which I took home because I couldn’t take you.
I lost my soul in the quarter mile from Foyles to Jerry’s
or maybe it was Jerry’s to Foyle’s
and what I lost was my mind.
His name was Adam
or maybe I only call him that
because he was my first man
and he told me let’s take some of this and we’ll get caned.
It was the way his T-shirt stayed angel-white in the citygrub
and the way his tattoo moved but his teeth stayed still when he smiled
that pulled me across the street.
I’d never seen confidence or clarity like it
or maybe I had
and it was some wet-sheeted memory
he drew to him that sticky six o’clock
like a cloud of backflowed blood swilling round before the shot.
I would have studied at Cambridge
or maybe I wouldn’t
and that was the lie I told myself
because I knew I needed guilt
and neither the junk nor the ejaculations gave me any.
I lost my life somewhere by Bar Italia
or maybe someone found it
and put it to good use
or maybe they wasted it
and now I haunt the shelves of Foyles, perpetually browsing
or maybe I’m outside Jerry’s
and this absinthe in my blood is just too strong
or maybe it’s not strong enough
because I can’t stop thinking of Adam
or maybe I only call him that because he fell.