I know it's not a poem, but here's a short story.
We were asked to write a strory about a child for our Counselling class, so we could 'analyze' it later.
Somehow my story took on a meaning that I never thought it would, even though it's fiction.
There's a man standing on the street corner looking up the street, not down. He shuffles about a bit because he's stiff and his legs ache, he's been there a while. The cigarette butts at his feet testify to that.
Another dangles loosely from his lips and he has an occasional draw on it, his hands are deep in the pockets of his coat. The collar's upright against the late November wind.
What's he doing there, is he waiting for a woman ? I don't think he is, most guys would have gone long ago and suffered the row when it came. He's waiting because he wants to wait.
He's pretty damn sure that whatever it is he's waiting for is going to come along sometime. He needs to wait, he must wait - why else would he spend his day looking intently up the street.
The street's one that I know, just an ordinary High Street in an ordinary town. Of course there's no cars here anymore, the streets been paved with stone slabs and the street lights have changed from the very last working gas lamps that I can just remember, to the glaring orange electric street lights, and now back to a fancy electric light that looks like a gas lamp.
The shops have changed some as well, although that shoe shop has been there forever, as has my favorite bookshop. My retreat when my wife wants shoes.
The Lyons Coffee House has long gone; the aromas of far off exotic places have been swept aside by the stench of sweat and cheap perfume that billows out from the electric doors of the Poundshop.
My other favorite shop has gone as well, the toyshop. One window was always full of cars and lorries, tractors and ships. There were enough Colt 45's for a Sheriffs posse and Commando Daggers for a regiment. Paint boxes with "ochre" and "burnt umber" were a mystery to me back then when red was my favorite colour. It's black now.
The window on the left hand side of the door had dolls and stuff; but I didn't stand there as a boy, I stood before the right hand window, pleading for the red Ford Zephyr with working headlights. They were essential to see where you were going under the bedclothes.
The man's still there, flicking the wheel of his Zippo to light another fag as he shuffles his stone cold feet, he still looks intently at the crowds rushing along, panicking because the slippers they wanted for Dad's Christmas present were dearer than they thought and the money's running short.
All kinds of people rush past, and the man keeps looking, keeps smoking and stamping his feet against the cold. Then he stands still, drops the cigarette without looking down and slowly moves to the centre of the street.
He watches a couple walking slowly towards him, a young boy between them has both his hands raised to enjoy the firm grip of one each of theirs. He slows them down to the pace of his tiny legs, but they don't mind.
The crowds and the noise mesmerize the boy. The shops are all bellowing Christmas songs through tinny speakers, and people are shouting above the din.
Gaudy lights swinging gently in the cold wind above the street fascinate him as Santa and his reindeer flash out of sync to whatever music is loudest.
The boy slows down and looks into the window of the Kebab shop, there's a queue of folk waiting to be fed and enjoying the warmth. The Turkish music is a welcome break from Noddy Holder screaming about "Merry Christmas".
The boy turns around; still holding the grown ups hands as they walk slowly past, and stares through the window intently. A man with a big knife smiles at him, and the boy smiles back.
The boy turns back to see where he's going, and continues up the street without looking in any other windows. Just like he did before he got to the Kebab shop. He chatters away to his grown ups about the lights and all the other exciting Christmas stuff that's going on. And he thinks about the toy car that's he's sure is in the big bag his Dad's carrying in his right hand.
The man reaches in his pocket and produces a battered pack of Benson & Hedges, there's one left. He lights up, turns, and walks away slowly.
He seems satisfied, for now, but he knows he'll be back there sometime.