Counter Culture Cafe

The place where the antisocial
Gather to be alone
Each claiming a four-seat table
As space they can call their own.

We read, write and sip in silence
Observing our counterparts
Affronted by vocal violence
Where chattering children pass

I’m nearing the end of one cup
But pause while another stands
It wouldn’t be fair to counter
The pull of their drink demands

So queueing for table service
I duck to avoid the eye
Of waitress who makes me nervous
By bussing a bench nearby

We know those we see here often
But only on nodding terms
Some barriers never soften
And hand-shaking passes germs

Anxiety takes no notice
With all interactions dear
We pass out our days in closeness
And try to ignore our fear

We’re hardly inventing lonely
Though solitude equals peace
And we are our one and only
Unlikely to breed – we’ll cease

It isn’t a cause for wonder
That our generation stalls
When clearing one’s throat is thunder
Too sensitive for applause

And here in our counter culture
We’re safe from the fond embrace
We run from our awkward feelings
Too late to be in the race.

Comparabolic Religion

Under the same Abrahamic rite
Why is it one tribe must shoulder blame
For all the ills our tongues in spite
May mutter, hiss, jibe, joke, proclaim

Can all those bearing guiding star
And shunned as less than fully hale
In truth be held as such they are
Accountable by any scale

From other creeds and careful groups
And once again, ill fated, mean
Cast out as ‘other’…  Story loops
Unfit to mingle, foul, unclean

How are we in point of fact
In any way so different
When we all, with lesser tact
Live and die with base intent

Dogma and self-interest
Returning fellows to their clay
Here with darkness in our breast
We’ll charge along this alleyway

Now ignorance and cruelty
False, Godless words have spat to shine
We in our turn may twist and see
Of those whose creed does not match mine

Our own ideals overturned
With harsh contempt, disowned, decried
And know ourselves as those who earned
The scaffold built when first we lied

And chose to follow to this end
The unrefined, archaic lore
Hanging decisions on the bend
Of what worked once some years before

To weigh as wanting one who had
An equal claim to all the Earth
As we ourselves who in our greed
Conspired to steal more than our worth

Survivor

I am right there
Surrounded by cockroaches
Squatting in the ruins,
The wreckage.
Collateral, damaged
In the fallout
Of a truly
Decadent society
That looked up to its
Graven images,
Photoshopped.
Idols, now idle.
How they glittered
In their lame, sequinned
Lifestyles.
Just me – a bunch of
Bad habits
And under the rubble,
One drug-addled
Rock guitarist.
Perhaps if we put our
Heads together
We can try
To find words
To remember.

Outsider

Otherness, that Big Brotherness
Shy, awkward, standing-in-the-corner, self-hugger. Stressed
With anxiety. Though sobriety
Lends an inevitable hand to propriety. I stammer
Stuttering a greeting that gets lost upon our meeting
In the chaos, overheating, panic seeping ‘til I’m cheating
Stepping out for some air, with strangers turning to stare
At me becoming aware, of laughter everywhere… Surrounded
Following a pealing that can set all senses reeling
‘Til I’m floating near the ceiling, tongue-tied, fingerless, unfeeling.
Shake my hand? No conversation with the cowards of creation.
I am sinking with sensation when I hear the celebration –
Party pooper! Join the group-er! Super duper! Have you heard?
I am chatting through my hat and it is really quite absurd
Can’t stop thinking while you’re drinking that I’d rather be back home.
In the company of others I am stubbornly alone.
Please believe me that I didn’t want to crowd your little clique.
It’s not personal, no, not at all, I’m shy and quiet. Quick!
While they’re quizzical, get physical just grab a bag and go.
I’ll be cruising while you’re schmoozing, floosing, boozing yourself slow.
Thumping heart, still overheating, terror-beaten and guilt-eaten.
Stumble, tumble an apology then fumble past the seating.
Through the constant sea of voices calling for too many choices.
‘Bout to lose my cool again if I give in to Twist and Shout.
God, it’s lonely on the fringes of the automatic out.

Inner Peace

Lie to me, I beg of you
Tell me pretty tales untrue
Undermine my eyes and ears
Petty crime to soothe my tears

Hide what truths I must not see
Lest their enchantment undo me
In Plato’s cave may I reside
Until I crave the world outside

Something to declare

They’re closing the borders
And checking for crime
We’ve signalled our orders –
Each kiosk; its sign
For twenty-one days
On the honour of those
Running far from the virus
No quarantine slows
Here’s the health of a nation
Held palmed in your hand
Shaking; quaking relations
That no one can stand
Find they’re no longer welcome
While terror’s abroad
Though the shape of their income
Is what we applaud
It’s a risk to our public
Unhealthy and pale
No banana republic
With goodies for sale
Will be bribing their way
Past the guards on the line
Who know only to say
“Gosh, yes, everything’s fine!”
Though you’re likely to bring
Things that may cost the Earth
Still we can’t let you in
More than our job is worth
As the siren is sounded
The gates clang at last
All asylum for hounded
A thing of the past
We suspect you of sheltering
Dangerous germs
So we’ll lock down the sweltering
Under our terms
No sex, please, we’re British
The same goes for fun
And in case you seem skittish
I’m holding this gun
With no end of compassion
Our hearts on our sleeve
We’ve resources to ration
So, kindly, just leave.

Silent

It has been a quiet week
With the tongue still in my mouth
As though words had simply left me
I wait, patient, resigned, for their return
They tell me it could be weeks
Another two, perhaps will pass
Before I can taste the letters
In their shades of coolest blue
And burning crimson
I cannot let myself slip
Tripping into watery terror
They will return, they must
We are lost alone

Saturday Sadness

You wanted to come here to show me off
Your symbol of success, transition
Working class no longer, toff
In all opinion, loud derision

So I sit and watch the bald patch
Slow expanding on your head
Your eyes both glued to latest gadget
Showing off your wealth instead

I sip my coffee, not as silent
As the trophy WAGs should stay
While strangers’ pallid faces highlight
All you do and all I say

There was a time, almost forgotten
By the one who paid today
I’d make you think and laughing rotten,
Lift your moodiness away.

When shining eyes met laughter lines
Two grins curved freely over cake
And sugar seemed less of a crime
With more forgive and much less take

Impious, I once held your gaze
Without the need for sabotage
Of smart phone: screen of lesser rays
Replaced your smile with time on charge

We sit and comment on our drinks
You read the news in silent thought
I wonder at these forty winks
That hold our lives to what we’ve bought

Dish of the day

Piping hot, served on a big, silver platter
With pristine white linen in case it should splatter

Serving suggestion: try holding your nose
(It can be quite fragrant when fresh off the stove)

A gentle reminder – you may burn your tongue
On sauce with such condiments, thickened and mum

Though some find it bitter, you might like the taste
So try not to let what you’ve bought go to waste

It’s strange and exotic, the critics all say
But you ordered The Truth – it’s our dish of the day.

Out-growing

Those long-hair days of wild and free
While young did not come easily
I grew into my genes too late
To benefit from youthful state

But learned the songs with all the rest
While others danced in pants and vest
As I kept covered awkward shape
They blossomed, trawling fashion’s wake

The skimpy morals of my peers
Confirmed my parents’ base-born fears
Thus all attempts to overcome
My shyness, foiled as they’d begun

No makeup, heels, short skirts for me
No skinny jeans or baby tee
The rare events I did attend
Kid sister came to shed each friend

As chaperone she proved effective
Showering with much invective
Any mate in whom she’d sensed
My interest, until offense

Was taken by so many there
No longer welcomed anywhere
I sought my solace by myself
Content to moulder on the shelf

In preference to company
For self-defence relied on me
Until the day I’d saved enough
To leave them all to guard my stuff

I barely spoke at home, it seems
While every thought throughout my teens
Was monitored by blood relations
All in hope of revelations

Youth began at twenty-one
As finally in search of fun
I left my childhood far behind
To see what joy there was to find