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
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
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
crystals and purple satin,
ruffles and curls,
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
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
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
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 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
i wipe my stinging eyes
and through the dirty light
a slither of gold snaps out of sight
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
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.