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.

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The one man band

Drums his heels on carpet tiles
And sucks his teeth in rictus smiles
While stirring soup with clinking spoon
And slurping tea all afternoon

He hums and taps upon the desk
And clears his throat, his sinus, chest
Expectorating ’til he’s blue
And colleagues ask if he’s quite through

But no, the show is scarce begun
He cocks a cheek and fires a gun
And squealing gases fill the room
To signal choral coughing soon

As he counts in one last encore
The yawning stretch with gaping maw
He dons his coat and hurries hence
Oblivious to audience

Five to five

They’re dropping like flies
As the plague sweeps the ranks
Rows of workstations empty
While telephone banks

Ring loud through the silence
And gathering gloom
As Thursday-night callers
Take turns round the room

One lone operator
Soon pales at the noise
And grasps at the handset
With grimace in place

For over-mic’d trawlers
That given the choice
She’d give neither date
Time, directions, nor voice

It’s almost the hour
That her shift’s at an end
But one final nuisance
Is waiting to rend

The last of her sanity
Ripped down the wire
Complaining injustices
Crude, uninspire

No longer the patience
To handle such groans
She’s wanting her bed
And an end to all ‘phones

Noisy neighbour

Bang! The childish adult kicks the ball
It Bang! shakes the fence Bang! and
Scatters the Bang! birds from their
Treetop nests. Bang! He is bored, this
Bang! boy child whose body out Bang!
Grew his mind un Bang! til he was
Shut inside Bang! with the other misfits.
Bang! The rose petals fall Bang! covering
The Bang! grass with their Bang! broken
Blossoms. Bang! The nurse calls to
Bang! shake him from where Bang! ever
It is he Bang! goes when the mood to
Bang! kick has over Bang! taken his
Desire to bounce Bang! on the squeaky trampoline
Or Bang! to pee on the syca Bang! more
Tree asserting his Bang! dominance over
Bang! deceitful foliage that Bang!
Whispers secrets Bang! for only his
Bang! ears. Twenty seven. A
Magic square. I wonder if he knows…

Bang!

A Dedication

To those who flirt in quiet carriage
Never realizing the marriage
Witless, stupid, sally forth
Stumbling like pigs in trough
Blind to what we watchers know.
Deaf to sense and subtext-slow,
They chatter on, they fail to hear
The silent screams of these two ears.