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Gary Smillie

Updated: Tue, 9 Dec 2014 03:18 pm

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A writer of poetry, prose and some short fiction. Did an MA in writing many moons ago, which I promptly neglected. Now trying to find the time and space to write regularly again.


Street View I am drinking in this bar I sometimes go to When I’m alone and have some time to kill It’s the window seats I like, bay windows That jut some way out into the street I’m staring absently at the street view Over my left shoulder, counting off coats, Drawn against the spitting, spiteful, winter wind When my eyes come to rest on these two guys On the other side of the street, arguing. The tall, thin man facing me has his wallet, A beat up, tatty old thing, in his hand. He keeps nodding towards it, gesturing. (Making a point, I guess, about his lack of funds; When was there ever enough money?) His eyes are wide and watery and pleading. His face is gaunt; he’s on his arse, this guy. Nothing about these men, about this, seems right I sense that I should look away, but don’t, Not even when I feel the word ‘pleeeeease’ Straining through the tall guy's smoke stained teeth. The man whose back I see, shorter, broader Is just shaking his head, ominously. I keep watching as this man reaches out, Takes the other man’s wallet, then walks off. The squat thief leaves unhurriedly, unfussed. The man who’s left looks broken, lost, Shoulders slumped, arms hung forlornly on their joints Sadness sponging through his coat like freezing fog. No one in the street seems to have noticed this Shapes continue to toll by until I see The man I’m watching looking back at me His desperate eyes searching my face For an answer or some crumb of comfort, So many things I just don’t have, and now We’re alone, the man left behind and I, A silent line of sight between our lives. Undressing She stands by the lamp, Pulls her shirt over her head. I’m already naked in her bed, Covers up to my neck, On the other side of the room. At such close range Even gentle light Makes her shadows huge. For a while I watch them As they climb the walls, But I can’t make her out From all the mutilated, Grey-black shapes And I remember how (As though this were not happening now) I like to watch her undress, Just like this. I remember it Like something missed. So I look at her again To see she’s rolling Off her tights. “God, I need to sleep tonight,” She says, and I nod. “It’s late,” I offer But I do not care If it is or not. I want this to go on and on. To see her golden skin Glow soft in warm lamp light To watch her move, Oblivious, like a thing unwatched. Finally, her bra comes off. She stops a while And faintly smiles. I smile back. We are each of us too tired For a more complicated code Than that. The Hill Runners Hill running is something you admire. It’s in your blood, North Yorkshire’s Moreish love of loneliness How the heather heavy tragedy Makes mountains sides romantic, Peaks magnetic as a pole star’s pull. I know you dream of them, those grim, Uncomplicated, headlong men. You can see heroic silhouettes – Black dot specks on blue hillsides Doing something brave and pointless Through the night, mile after lonely mile. You have felt the selfish thrill of an unshared sunrise, Flushed with pride when you looked behind To find not another human soul Between you and the horizon The valley’s green-gold blanket folds Glinting in the hazel of your eyes. You have form, of course, being born In the shadow of Roseberry Topping Where you walked the bare backed, spinal ridge To Captain Cook’s monument to sit, Your little mittened hand in hers, High above the village where you lived. I am not cut out for it, but still, The hill runners have got inside my head. I dream of you and them, bobbing up ahead, Of me, slipping, falling, looking up to see Your darkly spattered runner’s calves Moving into the distance, away from me.

All poems are copyright of the originating author. Permission must be obtained before using or performing others' poems.

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keith jeffries

Wed 5th Apr 2017 11:01

Hello Gary, Thank you for the poem ¨Street View ¨. Your thoughts and observations say a good deal about your insights into everyday life. I particularly enjoyed the line ´Sadness sponging through his coat like a freezing fog´. Please post more and thanks again. Keith

Travis Brow

Thu 11th Dec 2014 13:22

Gary, no need to make it explicit, it just piqued my curiosity, that's all. I'm looking forwrd to more of your posts.

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Laura Taylor

Wed 10th Dec 2014 09:44

Hello Gary - you're new here hey? Welcome to WOL :)

I absolutely LOVE Street View. It's exactly the kind of thing that I do, observing people, and I was struck by the compassion in it and obviously the poetry. Love how we never find out exactly what went on between the two of them. Spitting spiteful winter wind - cracking line.

Hope you enjoy this place as much as I have over the last few years and I look forward to reading more of your writing :)

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Gary Smillie

Wed 10th Dec 2014 09:17

Cheers Travis - much appreciated.

'You' is a girl, as it so often is. But I kind of liked the idea that the relationship could be a bit ambiguous. Does this work, in your opinion? Do I need to be more definite about this?

Travis Brow

Wed 10th Dec 2014 07:48

Who is the 'you' in the poem The Hill Runners?

The poem generally is compelling but the last line in Street View is excellent.

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