Hi all, I’ve written a new prose poem. This is the first draft, I’m sure time will change it. It’s called Don’t You Know There’s Something I Need To Talk To You About?
It’s coming dark in this rented bedroom where we sleep, on a heap of pillows, sort of lying together, you’re careful not to put your arm around me but your legs are pressed up by mine. You are breathing in the most quietest I have ever heard you. I have my back to you and I feel this movement. People have got opinions. The suspicion that surrounds us cases us to hide further, deeper, only centimetres apart. You turn and a set of keys falls off the bed and onto the floor but is briefly caught mid-air for a second as we both stop breathing or moving or, more precisely, thinking. I heard the echo of the drop for the rest of the evening. Louder when I turned to look at you, and in your face I saw a sort of femininity I hadn’t noticed before, and the co-dependency you falter in my loving me still, presenting as you, talking under your breath in your sleep. I don’t want to tell you what you said because you won’t remember, but it was pretty wild. The more and more I look at you the more I see the fragility of us and the palpable barrier between. When the keys finally drop you start up, then you look at me and say “go back to sleep” and we go back to sleep. They fall. We try not to.
It feels like it’s probably dark outside when we wake up but it’s not, we’re just tricked into thinking that because we slept so long and now we feel bad. The light present in this room is so ugly. I need a lamp. Do you think you could get me a lamp? Call it a tribute. I don’t like the way we look under the harsh light, we look too real. I can see each grey hair in your sideburns and you can see the moles under my eyes that make it look like I slept in my make-up.
We leave the house to go and buy supplies and you stand at the bus-stop near my house. You’re not the only man I’ve ever stood here with. You lean against the timetable and smoke so I have to try to remember if the bus comes in at 04, 14, 24, 34, 44, 54, or 07, 17, 27, 37, 47, 57. You’re a tall shape and you seem less tense in the top half, wearing colours of midnight shadows. When we were sleeping earlier I had a dream that I wasn’t very lonely any more. So many middle class people go cycling round here, all with baskets on the front of their bikes. One comes by us now, a twee Francophile with a baguette in hers, as if waiting to be caught by a photographer. She goes in the direction of the Golf Club but neither one of us can imagine her playing. In that few seconds I heard the keys fall again. Not the few seconds as she cycled by, but the overlap of seconds during and briefly after that, when I accidentally fell into you whilst trying to get out of her way, and that second in your arms seemed absolutely terrifying. So much more intimate than the sex we’ve been comfortably having. There’s something more intimate about seeing you and not senselessly throwing it down than actually doing so. The keys drop so loud in my head I look down at the pavement to see if they’re there.
Today, I’m nervous on the bus. Things have been quite pointless recently. There’s a man on the back seat who is talking on his BlackBerry about having just got out of jail again. He looks pale and manages to be skinny and flabby at the same time. He said it’s been a week. A look of disdain bounces off your face and onto all reflective surfaces and I remind you that you are no better than him, you’re just more affluent. He’s just got out for GBH and is organising a drug deal over the phone. Now tell me how he’s so different to you? You’re not exactly the King, you know. You tell me how comfortable it actually is “inside” and make no attempt to express contrition about your anecdotal experience. The boy on the bus knows violence. Like you, he knows the flood of adrenaline that – in me – causes hyperventilation and hot, clammy skin but in men like you – causes lightening in the limbs and tightening, coiled fingers. You can imagine a fight happening with all the balletic grace of trapeze dancers in the big top, but really it is just fighting, and all men like you are let out an animal, night-animals the police are used to seeing, their fur raised and their eyes luminescent when caught out in the darkness by a torch.
You’ve missed Manchester, I can tell. You’re diving back into it like a child gone back to the family caravan park. You want to go to the food hut and then the clubhouse and get a slushy. You want to order a cocktail from the old place but the old place has shut down an all you can get there now is burritos. You draw parallels. “Back home we have a bar a bit like this.” “Back home they do the best martinis”. Yes, but back home is not where I am, and I am not humble enough to come out with a statement like that and say it with any humility. Listen to you, calling it “home”! This may as well be London. London isn’t some magical place where all wishes come true. It doesn’t have its own mind, there’s no collective consciousness, it’s not full of opportunity and i couldn’t find work there unless I worked for you. There is nobody more friendly or fashionable or happy than here, people don’t walk differently. It’s just a city. And just like here it’s so much more lonely than a place populated by millions should be. The difference between here and London is a matter of miles. The difference between me and you is a matter of three years and terrible timing. There’s very little about me you haven’t already walked through.
It’s officially “night time” and the streetlights have come on. I see you in a composite of differently moving shapes belonging to their own eras. Your neck outstretched peering into the window of a bar to check for tables is Summer last year when I walked out of your house, and you stood at the door to watch me leave, peering over the hills, without the energy to call me back. Your arms will always be Summer 2010 when we first met and I saw then, naked, at the baths, and you made a comment about how the shape of my legs was pleasing to you. The head on your body is every single day of Summer 2011, looking down at a desk then back up at me then back down then back up at me from behind the glass wall that kept us separated. The body as a whole is Summer 2013, now, the present. What is it with us, and Summer? The first time we fell in love was Winter but even then, I reckon we’d been saving it up since June.
I don’t want to stay out until morning but I don’t want to not stay out until morning either. I need the comfort of buildings much taller than me, I need to watch the day come right back in again, I need to fall asleep in a cab home and have you wake me and we do that little dance of do-we-or-don’t-we. Come in, stay as long as you want, it’s not like I’ve got anything else to do. Outside the Midland Hotel there is still a concierge, at this hour. He’s wearing a maroon coloured suit with gold buttons and what I think is a stupid hat. I do hate the pomposity of the rich, the cartoonishness of money; the shocking pink of a £50 note, silver cloches that covered our breakfast when we stayed here, the shiny baubles you all adorn your poor with to decorate them. The concierge is kind of handsome.
We made it. The sun is beginning to rise so can’t we go watch it from somewhere? Cool blue sky dimmers in, we stand and wait for a taxi. Get in the back with me and put your arm around me. That’s safe. It’s all quite safe at this point. Just try not to think about it. And listen, I meant to tell you. I really, really, really need to talk to you about something. It’s about me. Well, it’s about us.