(So, how’d you guys start dating?)
I asked where you were from,
You groaned with the hinges of Old Factories
Coughed up chunks of ancestry in the cracking cream
of Digbeth Warehouse Walls,
You were never fearful, never gentle
with your truths – they were there as thick
as wartime guns punctuating every step I breathed in you
This is here, if you can rise to it.
You will never own this
You will not slow down.
You will not apologise.
I asked about hobbies – You laughed
With bass of gargling wells
Played music from beer gardens, dancers
making bike shed playgrounds
poets tickling the underbellies of café’s
until the evening felt like Winter’s first sip of hot chocolate
I was intoxicated.
This wasn’t lunch-time gossip, this wasn’t idle crush Facebook-approved
This was new.
I took you ice-skating in the main squares,
bowling in the outskirts,
watched movies in places new to me but old to you
By the time I told anyone about you I didn’t want to know anything else
I had what I needed and that was enough
It wasn’t a consultation when I told everybody what I had found here,
But people still took it upon themselves to warn me
That girl is bad news
Someone poured poison into her canals
Let jealousy bloom in the hatchet-wound of her smile
She has been broken, beaten down, bombarded
far too many times to know how to play fair.
She will hurt you.
I didn’t listen. Threw myself farther in –
loyalty cards and gift bags, office supplies
and work spaces. First bus in and last
one home. Taxi firms knowing me by my first name
Coffee Shops memorising my orders like I was becoming
part of the stonework. Like the big red buses
would slow down between victoria square and the new
library to point me out. “That man belongs here.”
We were squatting on low cushions in an old sheesha bar that
used to be a cinema – I was eating food I couldn’t pronounce the name of
and you were blowing smoke rings like you knew how to make grown men cry
without using words when questions with new shapes starting crawling inside
my head. I grabbed your hand and asked if you wanted more than this
We were surrounded by couples making new uses for tongues but we were
the only ones being intimate in that moment.
Do you want more than this?
Pain whimpered in your eyes and begged me so quietly. Take it back. Take it back.
But I wasn’t kind enough.
We went out and got smashed on Broad Street until we forgot the names
of colours and danced the first of our unravelling I didn’t know
was happening yet.
I started looking for places to move in together
You didn’t call that night and I didn’t worry.
There’s scum gathering under your fingernails
And all you do is paint them.
Bauble decoration German Markets
Smear the lipstick on fat and clean
To cover up the smells bubbling up from
Poverty and rotting youth.
I don’t ask you about your problems
I just start thinking about how I can fix you
Like a boiler or a broken bone
Begin by bringing brilliant minds –
Brainstorm building better brum
Beyond backward basic thinking
Bigger visions Bridges Between
Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.
Built on shoddy assumptions
Gum-clogged systems resistance where we’d
Least expect it.
I get arrogant at dinner
Move continents around my plate
Like a child
And you are so like a child
Why do you have to be so god damn stubborn about everything?
I shout without hearing myself
About how all anyone wants to do is help you
That look is back in your eyes but I still don’t hear it.
I hear excuses and self-pity
Train lines and stations built on butterfly metaphors
Look how well we’re doing London –
Look how well.
That night you call me and I don’t pick up.
We both worry this time.
You tell me Come out tonight. I’ve turned all my lights on.
I can’t. I’m working.
You worry too much.
I’m just trying to build a future together.
I’ll come tomorrow.
I leave without really saying goodbye.
Truthfully, I don’t really know what you said
Rusty gears. Peeling back years of
Heads full of words other people put there
I just know I don’t hate you
Let’s take this slowly.