John-Ward Leighton

YOUTH

Tunes on and a new pen full of ink
now what to write and what to think.
The song suggests desperation and loss
about the way we have come
and what bridge there is to cross.
No future is certain
and everything will become a ruin.
Like the weather is barely predictable
but only to those who know the signs
both tactile and audible.
So I sit here in the now
rapidly going deaf and blind,
will it be black and silent
before the grave?
I’m taking some time to think
but it’s only a nudge and a wink
it’s bone idleness to be frank
just another empty mind wank.
The words spill out onto the page
like a tipped coffee cup
but without scalding my crotch
and nothing to mop up.
Poem stalled call 911
haven’t heard a siren since five o one.
Son of a gun
it’s too hot for the junkies to OD
while old hearts fail in the heat
and fall to kitchen floors,
no one finds the bodies
until their place fairly hums.
Bloated, unidentified and barely missed
they have been fucked before
but never been kissed.
I sit in the half light of a shuttered window
basking in the breeze of my fan
while my thoughts fly to Samarkand.
Sunset on a beach,
sunrise on the prairie
midnight in the city
lonely in the half light of dawn
late night revellers in song.
Falling into a slit trench half drunk
waking with Sennelager[•] sand in my mouth
dried blood from whacking my nose
as I thundered in.
Shirt stuck to my neck from congealing blood
Staggering up to the wash stand
and yipping as I shave my scraped face.
Smelling like a piss tank even after showering
disposing of soiled underwear beyond washing.
The mother of all hangovers
and the CSM yelling in your ear.
We used to call this fun
and barely recovered
we went out and did it again.
Waking in a cheap room with a girls head on your arm
wondering if you should cut off your arm
to avoid waking her.
She turns in her sleep and in mid snore
blows her breath in your face
and
it’s enough to drive a skunk off a honey wagon.
She must have looked good last night
but God, look at her now.
You catch your image in the mirror
as you stealthily put on your pants and realise
you wouldn’t take any prizes either.
You take out your wallet
and leave a twenty on the bedside table.
You creep out of the room shoes in hand
and a used condom sticking to your sock
but you have effected a getaway
and then realise you didn’t even know her name.
It takes a few minutes to realise you have no idea where you are
so you buy a newspaper and see it’s Sunday and you are in Montreal.
Christ the party started Friday morning in Barrie[•],
where the hell did Friday and Saturday go?
You are supposed to be in Camp Borden
not out on the 401 hitch hiking.
Some luck, a couple of guys from the Van doos[•]
on their way to Camp Borden from Quebec City
pick you up and get you back to camp,
in time for three hours sleep
and then morning parade in your best
bib and tucker.
You survive until the first period after lunch
and a simple grenade period which you are to instruct.
You fuck it up big time.
Orders parade[•], Tuesday morning
Course commander threatening RTU[•]
tumble from top of the class to barely pass
and the instructors on your case big time.
It seemed like fun at the time
but now all it evokes is a shake of the head
and surmise and this is the truth
Stupid is as stupid does.
Christ…
youth.