Saturday, January 12, 2013

At the Petrol Station

The flies were buzzing
In the thick June air
And the Head of Sales was twenty miles
From anywhere.

His wife had stopped for petrol
And something cold to drink.
The Head of Sales lay back in his seat
Trying not to think.

Outside, by the old market cross
There stood three boys.
Three boys that looked too young for girls
Too old for toys.

And they stood lollylagging
So solemnly—
As solemn as only boys that age
Can ever be.

They didn’t look towards the car—
They were alone.
The Head of Sales had the kind of stare
That turns to stone

The man on the up and up
And the man on the down and down.
Grown men went cold all over
At his frown.

But the things that terrify grown men
Don’t bother boys.
They are too very worldly
To be worldly-wise.

They spoke about school and soccer—
The abiding things.
The sickest stories that they knew
And the Lord of the Rings—

The colour of blood inside the vein,
Whether flies can feel
And whether dying inside your dream
Is dying for real.

The Head of Sales burned to step outside
Of his metal box
To unlive a thousand meetings
And forget about stocks—

Forget about shares and selling points
And the taste of power
And lollylag under the useless sun
For a useless hour.

He wanted to bang on the window and yell
“Hey! Look at me!
I knew a whole lot less than you
And I’m forty-three—

“I lost the wisdom of ignorance
Somewhere between
Meeting my guidance counsellor
At seventeen

“And telling my first professional lie.
It’s true, it seems—
You really do die in real life
If you die in your dreams.”

But his wife was walking back to the car
And the group of boys
Fell silent as she passed them by.
Outside, the flies

Exulted in the balmy air
Feckless and free
Like gods for a summer evening’s


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I've been meaning, ever since you put this up, to say what a delight it is to stumble across good, rhyming poetry that is solid enough to stick with one for weeks! I very much enjoyed the vibrancy of this piece, particularly the joyful imagery of the flies. -Molly Carlson
    P.S. I'm sorry about the double-post. I was trying to use the the OpenID feature, when I accidentally used Google. I forgot that deleting it would leave an extra, empty post--should have just left well-enough alone!

  3. Dear Molly

    You literally have no idea how much your commet means to me. I've written poetry since I was in my early teens and have devoted an enormous amount of effort and emotion into it. I've submitted dozens of poems to poetry magazines, arts supplements etc. to almost universal rejection. I think, to anyone who writes, poetry is the closest form to their hearts. So I very bashfully include my poems on this blog from time to time, and I have become resigned to the fact that they pass unnoticed (someone once said that releasing a volume of poetry is like dropping a daisy down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the thud). The only reason I really persist in it is because I think poetry is very important, and even bad poetry is better than no poetry. So that you would make a kind a comment on one of my poems more than makes me day. Thank you ever so much.

  4. Ha. So moved that my spelling and grammar fell to pieces!!