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.

Head of State

Alone is his pyjamas
After the sycophants
Are all in their beds
The dictator, silent
Examines his image
By moonlight
Wrinkles and lines
Cratered temples
And soft-joweled planes
Surrounded by wealth
In the marbled rooms
Of a haunted palace
He did not inherit
But strives to display
To best advantage
For diplomatic reasons
Dreaming of leaner,
Keener days
Before he became
A political prisoner
Trapped and tamed
By the violent success
Of his own actions

Liberal Litterati

Seedy, lithe and well-oiled
In our uniform, non-conformity
Liberal minds squeak protests
From bedsit to ballroom
Decrying as fashion dictates.
Few trouble to research topics
Alien to a readership whose
Well-formed, lively sentences
So closely mimic their own.
We are all experienced here, we,
Residents of the four-walled glasshouse
What value the grass-roots witness?
When florid imagination lends itself
So well to high-def. verisimilitude
Without the constraints of
Post-traumatic stress
We rail again, against
The order of the world
Our words perpetuate
And tilt our glass
To toast the common man.

Daydreamer

Not for me
Such Heathcliff tales
No bodice-ripper
Do I crave

I’ll not succumb
To doe-eyed slave
I thirst for more
Than hero-brave

An aspiration
Of romance
In modern times
Has not much chance

Of blossoming
To fruitful lust
Amid this dance
Of little trust

We feel our way
From bed to desk
And sleep en route
Deprived of rest

So few our moments
And well-spaced
No thunderbolt
Mid rat-filled race

But gaze at fellows
As we pass
Their eyes as cold
And hard as glass

Where nothing tender
Is betrayed
We human souls
Are yet afraid

The loneliness
That seeps through cracks
Means even couples
Can’t relax

For mated, settled
Set-up well
We miss what first attracts;
The smell

And nostrils flaring
Leave the nest
Searching for
More fun, less rest

What is exotic
Fuels our dreams
Thus life unravels
At the seams

Tarnished Valentine

No good may come of dreaming
I look upon the world
No castled knights, no diamonds ring
But real, cruel and cold

The truer side of romance
Of creamy curds and whey
Beyond the reach of second chance
Who’d only heard today

No gift is given freely
Without a reckoning
Among the clouds of mystery
To you, my love, I sing

The daydreamer is brought back down to Earth with a thump

Stolen from my chosen world. Reality arrives with a rush and a whimper. Staring blindly at the hand before me, all faces turned to chart my progress. Wagers placed, the unimaginative betting on the surety of a telling-off. The dreamer castigated for thinking outside the box, outside the hell of thirty sheep, all following one who refuses to lead by example. Do as I say, don’t do as I do. You have to pay attention. Stick with the mundanity of life, it will bring its own rewards. What rewards? What is my motivation not to fly the scene on a broomstick, long hair whipping in the wind and cackling in a self-congratulatory manner? I lack stimulation. I have rarely found the company of sheep to be adequate in this regard. But you must want to conform, fit in, be molded to the cast of social splendour. The government wants more scientists. Well pardon me, please, for having an opinion, but my talents lie elsewhere. I suspect the government really, deep down, desires something far more exciting – more dominatrices, more cheese and mustard sandwiches, more sex, but it’s pointless explaining such things to most adults while one is under the age of ten. They tend to be so shocked that one can think, that the content of any message is lost amid cries of ‘Sacrilege’, as the alarm bells sound and they call in the men in white coats to ask embarrassed questions about your relationship with the world around you in a crude attempt to discover your emotional handle. A label is most helpful to those members of the red-tape brigades who cannot cope without a filing system. It allows them to hide their fear of you in a little box. Somewhere between Arachnophobia and Necrophilia lies a little drawer with my name on it, encircled by a thick chain and multiple padlocks. It is time to break the locks and melt the chain, free the spirit and allow the daydreamers to solve the world’s problems. Protocol will only get us so far, as we keep edging ever-closer to the big red button that could end it all in a heartbeat. No daydreamers would press it for curiosity’s sake, as we have clearly imagined the consequences. Clearly and in technicolour!