I worked on a poem all day that day, called ‘Yer Thighs’, about my love of her thighs.
Her: gone now like all the others. I’ve taken what I can, used it in my work.
My work: seems at times so dusty and inelegant, like an unwanted phone directory lingering too long in the darkened garage of a long-abandoned house.
Abandoned house: like what I was when she left me for the circus.
The circus: where she went after she left me. The longing to breathe fire for a living could no longer be suppressed, she said. Why?
Why: I said. She said she could not explain to someone who had never swallowed a lit match.
The lit match: back then, long before, burning down to its base without me putting it in my mouth.
My mouth: unburned then, but, now: unloved.
So many whys: yer lovely thighs.
I never was much of a poet, but I’ve stuck to it like a limpet. You get used to it, like life, they say. One thing has become clear over the years of grinding out the lines: make them rhyme, hammer them out. Get paid on time.
With the rhymes came the adverts, and with the adverts came the money. I bought a new pencil.
Pencil: so sharp at the beginning, but dulled with time.
Time: what I now have a lot of. Since she left me.
(Chorus: FOR THE CIRCUS)
The other night, I went,
Where all my money I did spent,
Three rings my entertainment provided
No clowns elevated my humours,
Or gave any explanation for why-she-did
Leave me for the dubious joys of
Flammable exhalations in the shabby sawdust
Damp with tiger piss, softening the blows
Dealt to the disappointed imaginations of
Once bright-eyed children.
Bright-eyed children: what I once was (at least, one of them).
I bought two new pencils. The second one a spare, retaining its point, keeping its sheen. Like a portrait of Dorian pencil. I kept it in a special wooden box at the foot of my bed.
Then, one day, it was gone, and in its place, in the small wooden box, some ashes.
She had smoked it, or something like that.
I never asked.
Soon I could detect the fumes of paraffin lingering around the house when I returned from the office.
The Office: where I go to work, hammering out rhymes like a man with a hammer hammers out whatever you hammer out with a hammer.
Another hammer, perhaps?
Metaphor: something you write when you can’t think of the exact word for something.
Circus: six quid in? Not exactly a bargain, but another chance to try and explain the world through a microcosm.
I thought, if the lions represent good, do the tigers represent evil? And what about the elephants?
They represent wisdom, I thought, as I watched one take an enormous dump on the dank sawdust in front of an entire family.
The monkeys could represent Christianity and its struggles with the bananas of truth.
Transubstantiation? Paraffin into fire.
Her: standing there blowing fire. Turned me on, slightly. Felt a twinge, and then had to leave the auditorium, shamefacedly, with a programme held crotchwards.
Crotchwards: towards which all art tends.