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It’s moments like this

when the barman goes through the back

and leaves me alone

a radio whispering

somewhere amongst the glasses

- I’m through with love -

the way the traffic slows

to nothing

how all of a sudden

at three in the afternoon

the evening’s already begun

a nascent


By ten I’ll be walking away

on Union Street

or crossing Commercial Road

in a gust of rain

and everyone who passes

will be you

or almost you

before it’s someone else.

A Private Life

I want to drive home in the dusk

of some late afternoon,

the journey slow, the tractors spilling hay,

the land immense and bright, like memory,

the pit towns smudges of graphite,

their names scratched out for good: Lumphinnans;

Kelty. I want to see

the darkened rooms, the cups and wireless sets,

the crimson lamps across the playing fields,

the soft men walking home through streets and parks,

and quiet women, coming to their doors,

then turning away, their struck lives gathered around them.

I speak

Of men’s passing

So rare in this arid land

That it is cherished like a refrain

Until the return

Of the jealous wind

And of the bird, so rare,

Whose fleeting shadow

Soothes the wounds made by the sun”