Tuesday Morning Observations At The Supermarket

“Give him milk to make him sick”
A gravelly-throated grandmother spoke,

I chose this wrong time
To hear choking from the other end

Of her connection, waiting to pay
For pharmaceuticals and confectionery.

Disabused queue, end of the line,
Kissing in public is frowned upon;

Improbable healthcare professionals
Talking behind me, irresponsibly,

Garrulous, gaseous
Logorrheic overspills

About a young female client
Pleading with herself to kill

If she could just have seven pills.
I heard their saturnine eyes rolling.

We all have our conditions;
Some degrade us,

Some deceive and some distill,
I stood blankly at the automated till

Because all the alerts had run out.
In a patriarchal society

Fecund machines are bestowed
With women’s names

Or pronouns used pejoratively;
Olivia, Marion, Emily.

It reminded me of a former colleague,
Cigarette-blonde hair and eyes

Like falling rain, deceased,
Cancer grabbed her and drowned her

So quickly her doctor
Did not have time for prognoses,

Akin to a storm unforecasted
Or a cast of crabs

Swarming on a tourist beach,
Dragging her into the sea.

Less and less people are wearing
Poppies of the season because

More and more are forgetting –
I met a man who went to war

And nobody wore a flower at all.
Departing the store, someone

Walking four and a half seconds
In my wake is singing words

He heard on the supermarket radio
And I want to find a way

To travel between two worlds,
Suture the irreversible wound,

Turn on a kettle,
Welcome myself home.

On the way, however,
I drove by a broken-down car,

Middle lane, hazard lights,
Annoyance of drivers,

And I observed to my horror
A shell of that disillusioned client

Moments after she did what she had to.
I later learned her name

Was and still is somewhere
Miriam.


Ode To A Parking Lot

All our loved people,
Indelible, said clearly,
In my thirteenth sonnet,
(Did you read it?
I haven’t, I imagined you
Subtly and too kindly said…)
Each incredible, unique,
Who for whatsoever reasons
Are in parking lots
Of businesses which
In this moment are as
Unrealisable and mythical
As Pegasuses appearing
In supermarket aisles
On the left, hooves heard
Between the edamame beans
And the deeply bereft,
Or Orion’s coordinates,
Illuminated blue in new
Speedometer needle sets,
With your one head
In your two beautiful hands,
I am with you all
Each and every one
In our millions, our army
Of sadness, sorrowful troughs,
Because I too am that moment,
And I learned to overcome,
And when I overcame
I owed it for you,
As a penance, at cost;
I bleed and I bled,
My fervent words for your love.

I became through with a world
Designed by others
Into which I was buffeted
By their Shannon and
Fastnet blustering rough.

Do you remember
When things mattered,
Before they feigned
And they flattered.
I cannot remember a thing,
My life’s no more certain
Than a butterfly wing,
But in a butterfly’s wing
Is the sting in the sin
Of all that matters
And entertains.

Some drive away, hands on the wheel,
Some go on to thrive
And some to steal;
But one or two don’t, in the car
Or the woods, and I stay
With those love, the misunderstood,
And that’s why when it comes
To paychecks, a glance,
I’m not with your goodness,
For I left all that time
With the dead in a trance.