A greasy-spoon cafe on a Camden-grey day.

I was tired, hung-over yet, strangely, quite hungry.

You stood at the counter ordering coffee.

Black, no sugar. You sat in the corner. Away.

Your face held a history that I wasn’t part of.

The sadness I felt didn’t make any sense.

Fried egg and bacon, half-eaten, redundant,

lay dead on my plate. I sipped tea in defence

as you noticed me looking. Eyes quickly averted,

too late, I was filigree falling apart.

You headed toward me in monochrome motion,

your flickering smile an abuse of the heart.


Do I walk or respond? Hell, you’re scrap from the past’.

‘Good to see you’.

Stay calm now. Pretend.

‘You, too. How you doing?’

You have all the power. Don’t hurt me.

It’s started, but how will it end?

You smelled so familiar, of teen-aged nostalgia.

Oppressive and sexy. A déjà vu crime.

Your hair, slightly longer, a riot of Ravens,

sat lazy on shoulders I’d thought of as mine.

My mind battled logic with wild insanity,

Run. Don’t look back.

I was mush.

Can you tell?

Do you know? Can you see in my eyes

that I’m gasping and choking still under you spell?

‘It’s been a long time’. You sounded the same.

And the lips. Oh, the lips and the kisses I knew.

Damn you.

Lips that could lie like a lake in the dessert.

Same lips saying now, with a smile, ‘Missed you’.

‘Yeah?’, I replied, in a desperate bid to stay light.

Indifference is hard when your head’s on the wall.

‘You look good’, you persisted. I held my composure

(I think) though I shrunk to the size of a ball.

‘Thanks’, I shot back with a shrug. Such a diva.

Why now? I’d been healing and reeling in frogs.

Your face, animated, spoke under my psyche

in faraway words of a vague monologue.

The images sparked, neon dark, unrelenting.

The battered Toyota, head-rushed to the coast.

Writhing fire-naked nights, waking tight

to the memories still fresh in our sweat.

‘How’s your wife?’, and it wasn’t a question

so much as a canvas to paint with your mouth.

‘What choice did I have. She was having a kid’.

You seemed suddenly weak. Were you clawing me in?

‘He got sick last September. Didn’t make it.’

Oh, God! What a slap.

Did I want to know more?

‘I’m sorry’, I said. Well, what else could I say?

Was I sorry? Of course. Very sorry. Who for?

And then shame, in its torrents, smashed into my heart.

as my pain cowered inward. Your hurting was more.

Do I reach for that tear dripping soft on your cheek?

Do I catch it or let it go wet to the floor?

A greasy- spoon cafe on a Camden-grey day.

The past is a murderer needing a rope.

A battered Toyota parked minutes away.

The future, a glorious, hazardous hope.

About ShirleyB

I was born with the muse in me. Sometimes I wish it would go away but it won't, so, good, bad or ugly it will escape intermittently.
This entry was posted in Life & Emotion, Life & Emotion, Love & Romance, Love & Romance, My Video Poems. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Encounter

  1. Grace says:

    The past is always filled with possibilities of what can be. I enjoyed the conversation as well as the thoughts of the narrator. How does it end, I wonder. Its always a risk, isn’t it? I want to be an optimist and hope for the best.


  2. Helen Dehner says:

    So many wonderful lines in this story poem …. I could feel the exchange, the emotion, all of it! Wow and brava!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. msjadeli says:

    First class writing. A novella in poem form. Favorite lines:
    “A greasy spoon cafe on a Camden-grey day.” (and its repetition)
    “I held my composure
    (I think) though I shrunk to the size of a ball.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with Lisa, this could be extended into something longer! I love the lines she mentioned and also this grabbed me, “You have all the power. Don’t hurt me. It’s started, but how will it end? You smelled so familiar, of teen-aged nostalgia.” I love the vulnerability you disclose to the reader with the inner dialogue. Exactly what draws the reader in and we feel all those complex emotions, although we don’t even fully know the backstory. So happy you joined in the prompt! 💗


  5. K.Hartless says:

    Brilliant narrative poem. I felt completely roped into the story-the fresh images were beautiful throughout. My favorite, “so much as a canvas to paint with your mouth.” The hazardous hope of something new, perhaps fungi-like. Loved this.


  6. Ingrid says:

    You had me at ‘a Camden-grey day.’ but what a remarkable depiction of the perils of falling in love, with an ending I didn’t expect. I loved this!


  7. Ron Rowland says:

    Wow, this really pulled me in. Well done.


  8. kittysverses says:

    Unexpected ending. Enjoyed your writing. 🙂


  9. Sunra Rainz says:

    Wow, just wow. I was hooked throughout this whole scene playing out. I love:
    You smelled so familiar, of teen-aged nostalgia.
    Do you savour the cuts?
    And the killer last line: The future, a glorious, hazardous hope.
    Well done! 🙂


  10. I love how the different timelines played in parallel, the present meeting the past, and maybe somewhere a future… the shock and guilt of finding hope in the death of a child probably makes the future bleak


  11. Beverly Crawford says:

    Just to stay safe, I’m avoiding greasy spoon cafes in Camden on grey days, lest I fall prey to hazardous hope! A riveting read!


  12. Wow! Intense. And all of it swirling around a brief moment. Well done.


  13. ShirleyB says:

    Best to avoid greasy spoon cafes anywhere even on pleasant sunny days, Beverly :).
    Thank you for reading.


  14. M says:

    powerful, riveting, even visceral ~


  15. sean@bogie says:

    Loved this. So full of depth, of doubt and fear and challenge and hope. I found myself hoping things work out really well for the both of them. I am ready for the next instalment.


  16. sanaarizvi says:

    My goodness! This is alive with emotion- palpable and hard-hitting. Yes, the risk is there and it’s high. We know it. But who can say that we won’t revisit it again? 💝💝


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