burnt toast

we sit around in dust and gloom
playing scrabbled games of paltry words
scratched on pre-used cards,
to eke out time in shuttered basements –
unheated, draughty, shabby cellars –

far below the suite of mirrored rooms –
and terraced rooms, and galleries,
and a sunlit rooftop studio –
in which love and joy desported,
once, or twice, some time ago….

weary and dejected, not-quite-defeated,
close to the end of strength, diminished and
aware, sated by an absence, shorn of will,
we squabble over trivia, pennies,
scraps, and scratches magnified in dirt;

stories turned upside down in smoky candlelight
and seen through very different eyes:
on the one hand, even-, open-handed,
the other clenched and stricken;
stretched on a grill, heated and racked,

now cold and broken, crusts of burnt toast
smeared by scrambled broken eggs
mixed with rotten black banana skins –
the cream of last year’s fruitless crop –
a mourning breakfast, left uneaten;

who’d have thought it would be so?
when we were bold at play, imagined
we could dance all night
and still be fresh to face the dawn,
more childlike than we knew;

skating on thin ice of beauty
we sought betimes to find some truth
mixed and confused with what was good,
tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow:
sometime, somehow, it came to this…..

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