Lady of the Bus

Her skin may need an iron’s once over,

Its pigment is brash and fuchsia.

But she smiles more than she did back then,

So why bother with that cosmetic nonsense?

Her day’s dictated by today’s timetable.

‘Lost’ doesn’t exist, ‘it’s adventure’, she insists.

Quarter to the hour, or ten past,

The maze of her head, sign-posted by

A free seat (complimentary, if that teenage scoundrel

gives up his.)

She’s a first-class voyager, companion to her wooden aid,

Clutched tightly like a hand to hold.

She has a favourite chauffer, but their presence is

unreliable,

Young enough to be her grandson,

But pretty eyes all the same.

Today’s audience don’t quite meet her gaze,

‘sorry for your loss,’

Something she can’t quite place.

Maybe she’s just forgotten her keys.

 

 

 

Different perspectives excercise

Mid-thirties I’d say. First thought was married, only there’s no ring on his finger. His lips, pursed. Eyes scanning the menu. All an act of course, he knows the ins and outs of the thing. Probably too much. You know it’s mostly ready meals, but keep it quiet mate. He’s here every week yet he doesn’t want to look too much of a regular.

“Can I take your order, Sir?” I say. I approach him with the same tone as everyone else. Just because he’s our most regular customer, doesn’t mean we’re on a friendship level. Don’t want him getting too comfy, he’ll think he’s entitled to a discount.

“The usual will do, thank you.”

I only know you from the colour of your tie, mate, not if you’re bangers and mash or fish and chips.

—————————————-

Was today a fish and chips day or chicken Caesar salad? Third night this week at the place, they must recognise me by now. I haven’t had my five a day, so maybe a roast would be the best option. Watching the waist-line and all.

The waitress probably knows my back story, sometimes I fear people can mind-read, the amount they stare. It’s always the same sequence. My shirt and tie, followed by my lacking company, and then the absence of jewellery on my finger. Sat alone at the table. And I always said people judging didn’t bother me.

It’s always the same table, by the window. I like to think I’m hidden, out of eye view. Pint in arm’s reach. Furrowed brows, to add to the growing collection of creases across my forehead.

It’s the same waitress. She’s young enough to be my daughter I’d say, but I can admit she’s gorgeous if I don’t voice it, right? She’s trying to hide her evident discomfort, avoiding my eyes. If she’s going to be like that, I’ll address at her pencil skirt instead.

“Can I take your order, Sir?”

—————————————-

The way they looked at each other was like an awkward family reunion. Another day at the office, another evening at the pub. It was routine for Paul. All since Sal walked out the door nine months ago. He’d said he’d learn to cook, said he’d put the Jamie Oliver 10 Minute Meals to good use. Only it was gathering dust on the shelf. Just as their wedding photo was. Turned over on the mantelpiece.

Annie was on the late shift. Minimum wage, with maximum effort needed to force a smile at the drunken men disguising the looks up her skirt. Paul and Annie’s interactions were becoming a level of understanding with one another, without having to say a word. Separate routines, different reasons but same location. Loneliness.

“The usual will do, thank you.” Paul said, when asked for his order. What Paul didn’t recognise was he was one of many that came in on a regular basis. Just another office wanker, divorced and lacking any culinary skills.

Annie had to hide her confusion. She scribbled a child-like scrawl across the page, disguising her poor memory with professional waitress mannerism. Hoping the chef would recognise her description of the one of many ‘usual’ customers, she forced a smile and scurried to the back.

She’d said she’d give the job up for months now, but even she wasn’t convinced anymore. It’d been a long day. Maybe she’d be the next local in the corner. Maybe she needed a pint herself.

 

Public Transport

Rickety, reckless, ridiculous more like!

A young couple. 19? Baby in pram.

A father, a nuisance, tattooed skull and ring

on his finger, fingers round her waist.

Hair like straw, attacked with heat from

the night

before?

 

Window-screen adaption to a day-time

performance

‘Town please.’ she says

‘1.40, love.’ I mutter.

The baby shrieks,

a roar, menacing. Ears fragile to

the piercing heart beat of the soap

opera sketch.

Foley artist?

My eyes divert to the road. If I focus

I can hear him snap at her.

The baby’s tearful welcome draws to

a holt.

Snap of her neck.

The baby is silenced.

so (i’m a slut)

‘whore!’ they shout as your best

mate wanted what he couldn’t have

and your brother’s cousin’s ex-girl

friend is insisting i’m

sleeping in her spot

 

so i’m asking for

it, because my skirt is above

my knee, my bra strap showing when

he was the one that

un-clipped me from behind

 

so, consent isn’t a ‘thing’

no, you grew up thinking ‘no’ was

a challenge, that ‘no’ meant convincing no,

means not no

-w but

‘maybe tomorrow’

 

and if it’s no i’m a ‘prude’

if i’m pure, i’m just frigid

if not, i’m dirty yet every

shower is an attempt to scrub clean of you,

how does my shower gel

reek of your odour

 

so, i’m a slut,

for female equals fetishize

for my clothes are sewn for

your approval

for

 

i’m society’s object, a physical

and you stand tall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sanitary

When I was twelve, I thought I was dying

“pre-adolescent, bleeds to death,”

Crimson-stained, battle-scarred knickers

Sat in the comfort of the toilet cubicle

stuffing DIY bandages in the now-nappy of my

underskirt

 

The unspoken word, the insult; euphemism

(‘time of the month, love?’)

Hidden parcel of embarrassment amongst groceries;

Scanning the over-priced assistance that

replaces pay-day luxuries

 

Infused bed sheets; a bath of

stained scarlett (tears) or

gaining five pounds

‘letting the painters in’ as they

decorate my patience with distasteful red

 

Mummy swore she’d tell me when

I grew up why my lingerie was laced

with clotted colour

as my stomach’s lining ached with

Future Fertility