in front of the Bakelite wireless and smoked
while nettles clustered in his front porch
like eager visitors denied admission
though a young ash had sprung up brazenly
in his bedroom, waving out the window
even while he snored, here, out for the count.
Well, the bed sags in the middle,
no sheets smelling of the wash, no woman's touch,
his cap, the pattern grimed, waits on the headboard.
In a blotched photograph his parents
worry. They wonder, perhaps, what a tree
is doing in their strange boy's bedroom.
Sit in the chair in front of the radio.
Its fabric, white the day he bought it,
looks brown as a fingernail from nicotine
Surely it can't still work? Turn the knob.
A little shock as music gushes out on long wave,
Jazz from Marseilles to make young men and women
dance until wine smelling mouths collide.
This was where he went while the damp ate the walls
nettles crowded impertinently in the porch
and ogled warm breathings, close kisses,
while he drank Powers whiskey and smoked, eyes closed,
his closest company the cattle in Moore's field,
until he slumped to sleep in Marseilles lulled
by soft bodies embracing in the machine.
Published in The Blue Guitar (Salmon Poetry, 2011) and Glimmer (Cinnamon Press, 2010)