Careless Whisper Lois E. Linkens/Christine Ray

I am late

to the designated place

excuses ready, half-truths at hand

you are oh-so-lovely in shell pink

your soft lips offered

I kiss your cheek instead

unable to meet your guileless eyes


the bar is dark, 

dimly lit by bare lightbulbs in glass jars,

hanging by copper wires

from the ceiling. 

the smell of warm beer


and musky aftershave 

forces its way into every nook.


it is loud and crowded tonight

my nerves jangle

I scan the crowd half hoping she is here

half hoping she is not

this place is a favorite

you have seen her here yourself


waiters float between tables

like human candles

black and white ghosts 

in a castle of money 

and make-believe.

there are big men at the tables

decorated by pretty girls

in jewels and lace.


A friend of a friend of a friend

I ran into her when you were away

innocent, just a shared drink, a laugh

not so innocent the second time

or the third. . .


clouds of smoke 


making me drowsy.

I pinch myself, hard.

my skin shimmers in the fogged light,

shadowed corners suddenly

illuminated in yellow,

pink and blue.


I nod subtly

in acknowledgement

to the witnesses of my past crimes

their lips sealed

engaged in their own dark dealings


above the murmur of the guests,

a song begins to play.

right on cue,

your cold hand brushes mine.


I spot her across the room

she is cool as a cucumber

low-cut dress, crimson lips

her look reminds me

that not so long ago I left her bed

her hair tousled, lips bruised, lying

languid amongst silk sheets


the room twinkles as the girls rise

dark shapes moving 

through the mist 

towards the checkerboard clearing

tired, your touch wearies me.

something is different tonight,

you are different. 

shy, perhaps nervous –

you do not hold me as you did before.

there are familiar faces

gliding past us

as we dance.


I am hot and cold,

sweating and chilled

heartbeat hammering


turquoise dresses,

crystals and purple satin,

ruffles and curls,

mirrored shoes

and crisp shirts.


I love you, sweet girl, truly

but she is my addiction, an obsession

I hate myself

for wishing I was still in her bed


people stand, silhouetted 

around us

like circus-goers.


I do not realize at first

that she and her friends

mimic our trajectory to the dance floor

I try to focus on you, not them


a waiter trips, glass tinkling 

as it smashes 

like stars 

on the wooden floor.

an old man lights his cigar 

from a match

between the teeth 

of a girl in green.

the air feels cold and unfriendly, 

the steps unfamiliar.


I am distracted, torn

the pounding of the blood

in my ears drowning out the beat

of the music


we have danced a thousand times

but this night 

feels like the first again, I think.

you move before me

yet you are not with me,

you swirl in a place unknown to me


I struggle to maintain

my composure

her friends keep looking at us, at me

turning back to her, they whisper

their laughter cuts through the din

their knowing looks sear me


I watch your eyes –

as you catch mine 

you stumble.

you fall against me,

forcing me back against a table edge,

scores of pain leaping down my spine.


moment of truth

you see the betrayal in my eyes

my feet fail, I fall further

cause you more pain


feet stagger

chairs clatter

lights flicker 

hot tears

i wipe my stinging eyes

and through the dirty light

a slither of gold snaps out of sight 

guilty feet 


and you do not come back for me


I have never seen so clearly

how flawed and faithless I am


suddenly there is nothing left

but goodbye


This tribute to George Michael is the first collaborative poem written by Sudden Denouement Literary Collective’s Lois E. Linkens and Christine Ray of Brave and Reckless.  Hopefully it will not be the last.




36 thoughts on “Careless Whisper Lois E. Linkens/Christine Ray

    • Thank you Sam! Lois writes so beautifully and is such a pleasure to work with. I realized immediately that this needed to be dialogue– the biggest challenge was working out the backstory in my head and then giving my protagonist a voice and some humanity. I would definitely be up for participating in othet collaborations and can think of some other cool and exciting pairings. I was really inspired by Nicole Lyons’ amazing collaborative pieces with Stephanie Bennett-Henry.

      Liked by 1 person

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