brick street in front of open shop doorway

Raglan Road or Near Enough

I always meant to write a song for you
on Raglan Road. Then winter came, with its long
johns and bold cats and forty proof. I entertained
almost unidentifiable feelings in the basement’s
blackout. It would have been better if I had left
some feelings unidentified, but that was never
my style, or rather lack of it: everybody knows
I’ve got no game. Anyhow, if I did, what would
we ever laugh about? I don’t believe everyone
loves a winner, but I do believe we all crack
up sooner or later for a dirty joke, a groaner —
everyone loves a class clown, at least once,
at least briefly, because everyone loves a punchline
or a punching bag; everyone’s punch-drunk, one time.
On Raglan Road, your hair started to go grey,
I want to say prematurely, except we weren’t
so young. Mature is a polite word for it; but you
might say we skipped that part, headed straight
to rotten. I skulked around those mold-drowned
rooms in your rotten longjohns and felt a love
for you so perfect it was indistinguishable from
mourning. My love was so much more impeccable
than any human man, you may as well have died.
One imagines how it felt, in the crosshairs.

I missed you, daily, in plain sight, on Raglan
Road with the lost leaves of January shuddering
above your head in its permanent cowl of smoke,
and the unimpeachable soprano winter light sifting
through the wind’s tin whistle, and the holes in your
socks, and in your shoes, and in that thing I called oh my
heart. The sky was a series of holes closely woven
as a sieve. I saw you straining through the winter’s pores
into piebald tomorrow, halfdead with the life of it,
and your greys like the fuzz on stale bread or a
butterfly’s wing, your woolen foureyed glare
all bergamot and black ice and brandy exhale,
and the smell of the numb, simmering earth and your
coat coated in cedar dust undusted and your safflower
skin, and I could see myself, as if from a treebranch
or a crow’s nest or a copcar peeling past
on Raglan Road or near enough, at the edge of the
frame whistling “Raglan Road” out of key, fading.