Too tired to sleep | Too much in love to be kind | Soon you will tell your story of the nightingales | of the cold cappuccino | of the hem of Marina’s skirt inadvertently | tucked into the back of her knickers | in full view of everyone | soon | you will tell | it will be your turn | Privately, for me, it can’t be that way | night gnaws on Siberia | my Japanese girl | rolls out of her fantastic indolence | from one side of the bed | slaps to the fridge in sloppy flip-flops | chills her forehead against the cool tube of lager beer | as if, on the edge of a migraine, consulting an oracle | or gently, adoringly | butting her next | lover | out of their luxuriant torpor | slumps with all the mountaineering weight of a steep, humid summer | onto the other side of the bed | finally | deigns to glance at me | and by subtle manipulations of her body and | facial expression | economically contrives | to indicate she’s angry with me | that I am | a disappointment | and permits me to fear | or rather, to continue to fear | that I am on the way out | have long been | surplus to requirements | and so the afternoon | curdles for me | and I pass it like a suicide | fretting over my note | or a faded beau or belle | picking at a mirror | in a carefully arranged | twilight | By evening | things haven’t improved | Through the instruments | of silence and monotone, pout, shrug, gestures so | minimal they may not even be | shrugs | delay | monosyllable | I realise I’m being encouraged | to keep going | to take my place, my | time-honoured place | in the losers’ parade | the line-up of hopeless slobs | way down the billing | on a list consisting | entirely of crippled acrobats | With her slender | idealised fingers | Mariko plaits the exquisite | lengths of rope | I may use | to string myself up | conceding, as she willingly does, that life without her | must lose all meaning | that bathrooms | void of one of her stray | eyelashes | must be too lonely | too sublimely | anti-climactic | as if I’m an earnest | medieval minstrel | a dove-pure troubadour, or | at the very least | a cunning Metaphysical | who has become too engaged | in the maze of onanism and irony | plea and lament | that he has slightly lost | sight of the rules | of the game | But that’s not true, Mariko | Do you think my vision | has made me blind? | So back to Siberia | to the slowly immersing | Atlantis of memory | the streets near the centre | the truck near the Austria/Hungary border | with the decomposing | bodies of migrants | locked inside | The white plate, with the sweet | eaten | orange’s helix of rind | Later, we squabble | half-heartedly | and later still, make up | sort of | She begins to tell me her story | of the red crowned cranes | dancing in snow | And then, Mariko is kind

So, it’s your turn | Tell us your stinking stories | in your beggars’ tongues | Are there cathedrals in them? | Historical minarets? | No doubt there are childhoods | secret dens | obscure codes | repression | No, on second thoughts, don’t | We are, very precisely, from different places | how can we make them the same? | Everyone is playing | a subtly different game | acting in discreetly | dissimilar plays | or perhaps in separate productions | of the same great, global play, although personally | I doubt that | We talked for a while of Jan | and his plan to buy a Bianchi | and Hannah and her tarot, her Cups and Swords | and of course we talked about money | or, more specifically, lack of | and we drank iced coffee and bitched enjoyably | about Ray and Marti and Duane | and then to the drum on the awning and the view | of the polyps of brollies | sprouting outside | we talked about the rain | always back to the rain… | Was that a dam? | A hydroelectric facility | out in the wilderness | serving some unseen towns | the abode of anoraks and snow ploughs | among the rock, the wolves and the firs? | It was a life lived miles down there | linked to those strings of halogen lights | a life | with shelves stacked with cans | of wood preservative | fluorescent jackets | anti-freeze | battered copies of saints and murder mysteries