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from imperfect Eden
and off to scott's (the dockers' restaurant)
burly men packed in round solid tables
but what the helle (drowned in hellespont)
this place for me was rich in its own fables
i'll be the lover sunk if that enables
an awesome sense of just how deep the spells
that put scotts for me beyond the dardanelles

lace-curtained windows (or memory plays me false)
no capped odysseus could turn such sirens down
or was it a circean slip that shocked the pulse
all men are pigs when hunger rips the gown
and these men were not there to grace the town
service bustling (no time to take caps off)
hot steaming food and noses in the trough

i loved it deeply squashed in there with you
rough offensive banter bantered back
the smells of sweat and cargoes mixed with stew
and dumplings lamb chops roast beef - what the fuck
these toughened men could outdo friar tuck
so ravenous their faith blown off the sea
that god lived in the stomach raucously

perhaps cramped into scotts i felt it most
that you belonged in a living sea of men
who shared the one blood-vision of a coast
tides washed you to but washed you off again
too much history made the struggle plain
but all the time there was this rough-hewn glimmer
that truth wore dirty clothes and ate its dinner

at midday - scotts was a parliament of sorts
where what was said had not the solid weight
of what was felt (or what was eaten) courts
bewigged and stuffed with pomp of state
were brushed aside in favour of the plate
but those who entered hungry came out wise
unspoken resolutions mulled like pies

and then the tram ride home (if we were lucky -
and nothing during the day had caused despair)
trams had a gift about them that was snaky
wriggling their straitened ways from lair to lair
they hissed upon their wires and flashed the air
they swallowed people whole and spewed them out
and most engorged in them became devout

you either believed in trams or thought them heathen
savage contraptions that shook you to your roots
on busy jaunts there was no room for breathing
damn dignity - rapt flesh was in cahoots
all sexes fused from head-scarves to their boots
and somewhere in the melee children pressed
shoulders to crotches noses to the rest

and in light-headed periods trams debunked
the classier lissome ways of shifting freight
emptied of pomp their anarchy instinct
they'd rattle down their tracks at such a rate
they'd writhe their upper structures like an eight
being drawn by revelling legless topers
strict rails (they claimed) gave sanction for such capers

trams had this kind of catholic conviction
the end ordained their waywardness was blessed
if tramways claimed per se this benediction
who cared if errant trams at times seemed pissed
religions prosper from the hedonist
who shags the world by day and prays at night
those drunken trams still brim me with delight

to climb the twisted stairs and seek a seat
as tram got under way through sozzled rotors
and find olympia vacant at my feet
(the gods too razzled by the rasping motors
- the sharps of life too much for absolutors)
would send me skeltering along the aisle
king of the upper world for one short while

and all the shaking rolling raucous gait
of this metallic serpent sizzling through
the maze of shoppy streets (o dizzy state)
sprinkled my heart-strings with ambrosial dew
(well tell a lie but such a wish will do)
and i'd be gloried as if leviathan
said hop on nip and sped me to japan

so back to earth - the tram that netley day
would be quite sober bumbling through the town
the rush-hour gone and night still on its way
mum lil and baby (babies) would stay down
and we'd be up the top - too tired to clown
our bodies glowed (a warm contentment brewed)
burnt backs nor aching legs could pop that mood

i lay in bed one day my joints subsiding
lost in a day-dream rhythmed by my heart
medicine-time (a pleasure not abiding)
i did my best to play the sleeping part
then at my back a nurse's rustling skirt
a bending breeze (all breathing held in check)
and then she blew sweet eddies down my neck

the nurse (of all) whose presence turned the winter
to summer's morning (cool before the sun)
who touched the quick with such exquisite splinter
the wince was there but no great hurt was done
she moved like silk the finest loom had spun
the ward went dark when she was gone or late
and i was seven longing to be eight

that whispering down my spine by scented lips
threw wants and hopes my way that stewed my mind
a draught drunk down in paradisal sips
stirred passages in me not then defined
at three i'd touched the grail with fingers blind
to heart-ache - this nurse though first described the gates
to elysium where grown-up love pupates

but soon a cloud knocked pristine sex aback
(i had to learn the hard way nothing's easy)
i went my own route off the sanctioned track
and came distraught - in fact distinctly queasy
without permission (both nonchalant and breezy)
i sailed from bed to have a pee (or worse)
and got locked in - and drew that nurse's curse

not only hers but all the fussing staff's
for daring such a voyage in my state
whose heart just then was not a bag of laughs
did i not understand the fist of fate
that waited naughty boys who could not wait
thunderous gods glared through the quaking panes
a corporate wrath set back my growing pains

forget the scented lips the creeping bliss
of such a nurse's presence on my flesh
locked in i'd been an hour or more amiss
they thought i'd done a bunk or slipped the leash
when found i'd gone all blue like frozen fish
those scented lips discharged their angry bile
and cupid's dart fell short a scornful mile

come christmas day the christmas tree was bright
its mothering arms held glittering gifts for all
and i was seven longing to be eight
and i was given a large pink fluffy ball
my spirit shrank into the nearest wall
true love reduced to this insulting gimcrack
my pumped-up heart was punctured by a tintack
Written by: Rg Gregory