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Terry Collett Aug 2019
And so once upon a year when young
As spring, and heir to haunting stories
Told down the long evenings,
Wild, yet not wretched, with catapult and stones,
Over the bomb site which were our fields,
Now buried in memories by time and its hands.
On mantle covered days we went our ways
Through storms not yet full blown, and had the look
Of mischief in the circle of our eyes;
Sweet were the teeth of penny feasting, schools
Our private prisons, Saturday's our praised parole to run the roads of freedom to our haunts.

And so once upon a year when knee-high,
In scruffy clothes of choice, dark
Shoes turned light by dust,
And grubby, tubby, short and smiling,
There did I wander far, yet chased no star
Across dry desert, nor sang hymns to a fear;
On the holy opening late Sundays, where suns
Let not the glimmer in hearts go waste,
I fled nor raced to meet no end
As days drew windows to be close.


1974 poem  first published in my first book of poems in that year. (c)Terry Collett
Terry Collett Jun 2019
We were in a bar
in Amsterdam;
it was noisy
with punters.

She sat on a bar stool
next to me.

What did you think
of Anne Frank's house?

Seemed ghostly,
I said,
as if all that tension
and anxiety had been
soaked into the walls.

She lit a cigarette
and inhaled.
I did likewise.

Someone must
have split on them.

Guess so,
I said.

Some one laughed loudly;
another spoke in Dutch.

Did you hear
what that ***** said
on the minibus?

What about?
I asked.

How she'd had this guy
in the back of a lorry
and he'd left the brakes off
and the lorry moved
along the side street
and hit a wall,
and they
were thrown apart?

No, never heard her;
I tend to ignore her
when she talks,
I said.

She's a ****,
but I still have to
listen to her.

We sipped our beers
and smoked
our cigarettes.

You want to come
to my tent tonight
and such?

Sure,
I said,
let's.
Terry Collett Jul 2018
You preferred the Mahler
rather than the Delius;
the record played on
your Hi-Fi as we sat
on your blue sofa.

You'd brought us two
glasses of whiskey
and we sat and listened.

There was a print on the wall:
some country scene,
lovers at the corner, kissing.

The curtains were drawn closed
to shut out the street lights
and moon.

Not sure
I could be roused
by Delius, you said,
Mahler it is
who rouses me.

We sipped and sat
next to each other.

Last time I was there,
after Mahler's 5th
we went into your bedroom
and undressed
and made love.

After we lay there hot
and drenched with sweat,
and you said your husband
could never bring you
to such heights.

I remember
our first time,
a year or so before,
and I had come
to your apartment,
and after talk
and drinks,
you seduced me.

You were much
older than I,
but it unwound me
and brought life back
into your bed.

Sometimes I brought
wine or sherry;
often we drank
a whole bottle
between us.

Years later,
a friend of ours
stopped me and said
you had died:
your heart had stopped
and you were found
alone on your bed.

I hadn't seen you
in years;
we had drifted apart.

I remember
your warm smile
and over-beating heart.
Terry Collett Apr 2018
The Mahler played.
You poured us scotch
and we sat on your blue sofa
sipping the scotch
from small glasses.

You said your son
had visited with his wife.

Skinny *****. Dark haired.
Tongue like a viper.

You seemed unimpressed
with his choice.

You lifted the glass
level with your eyes.

"They call it amber nectar"
you said.
I sipped mine.

Mahler's second
movement ended.

You gulped down
your scotch.

"Here or on the bed?"
you said.

I drained my glass.
"Bed is best"
I said.

You eyed me.
"Word is
you have eyes
on the temporary nurse"
you said casually.

"There is always gossip"
I said "she's not my type."

You raised an eyebrow.
But you knew
she might be
somehow.
Terry Collett Apr 2018
We were lying on her bed
listening to Gustav Mahler.

It was a small bed
so we were pretty much
thrown together after the event
of making love.

Both of us were hot
and lay there letting the air
from a slightly opened window
cool us down.

“I prefer his Second”
she said
“it has a more
religious overtone.”

Percy had been reduced
to a kind of cigar stub
and lay there
pathetically sleeping.

“I like his First
it has that power
and excitement
that he only tries to redo
in later symphonies”
I said.

She had small soft fruits
sleeping stiff there.

Nearby a cow mooed
and in the distance
a tractor moaned
across a field.

“I thought you preferred
his Fifth you said?”
she said turning
towards me.  

“I did but I prefer
the First now”
I replied.

A dog barked
over the way
and a car sped past
on the lane outside.

“Thank you
for the Solzhenitsyn book”
she said
“it looks quite deep.”

I noticed how well formed
she was and how her small thatch
was a different shade
to that of her hair on top.

“It is deep
and rather depressing”
I said.

Another cow mooed
and the dog barked again.

A car drew up slowly
in the drive.

“The parents”
she said
and leapt from bed.

I leapt off too
and scrambled
for my clothes
as did she
like a scene
from a film.

The car's engine
was still running.

She looked out
of the window
cautiously.

“It's not them
someone has drawn in
by mistake
and are going out again”
she said
sounding annoyed.

I stood half dressed
half ****.

She mouthed expletives
which sounded quite rude.
Terry Collett Apr 2018
Stockholm early evening.
She was with him
walking the City's streets.

A fight broke out
between two men nearby.

She screamed and hid
behind him.

He took note
and felt a poem
coming on.

The two men
circled each other
shouting out
in foreign tongue.

Benny moved
as the men moved
and she walked behind him
calling out "Stop fighting."

One had a knife
he had produced
from a pocket.

She screamed.
Benny took note
of the knife type
and how the man
held it and passed it
from hand to hand
like a conjuror's trick.

A crowd gathered
and voices called out.

The men circled
each other more.

A police car siren
droned in
and the men
dispersed in the crowd
and out of sight.

The police came
and the crowd spread out
revealing nothing.

Benny had his poem in mind
and she clutched his arm
with a sense of alarm.
Terry Collett Apr 2018
The sun shines above
the bridge in Hamburg.

He stands beside her
taking in the scene
of sun and bridge.

She has her camera
and takes a few snaps.

He watches the sunlight
play on the water's skin.

They walk the City
taking photos
now and then.

Her camera
is better than his
and so she
takes the most.

They stop for coffee
and cake at a cafe.

"That Polish girl told me
her mother hates
the Germans"
Dalya says.

"I suspect she does"
he says.

Dalya explains
what the Polish girl had said
about her mother
and the Germans.

Benny listens
sipping his coffee.

The young German waitess
has beautiful eyes
and a slim figure he decides
as she passes the table.

Dalya relates
that her uncle and aunt
died in Auschwitz.

Her mother's brother
who had stayed behind
hoping things
would get better
but they never.

Benny listens
to the waitress
talk to a customer.

That sparkle in her eyes.

Dalya lights up a cigarette
and offers one to him.

They smoke and talk.
She about the photograph
of her uncle and aunt
in a frame in the hall
at home.

He listens
bringing to mind
the night before
them making out in the tent
at the camp base.

Body against body
and face against face.
Terry Collett Mar 2018
He had brought
the Mahler 5th
and a bottle of wine.

He sat in her
dim lit lounge
on her white sofa.

She put the Mahler
on her hi-fi, poured
two glasses of wine.

He gazed around the room:
the paintings, low brow,
a few photos of her family.

She entered
with the glasses of wine
and put them down
on the table.

The music unfolded
in the room.

She sat beside him
picking up a glass.

He sipped his wine.

They lay back together
and kissed.

She talked of her son
a police officer.

He talked of the psychology
of ***** and the ****** revolution.

They drained their glasses.
She drew the curtains.

They undressed
ready for bed.

The third movement
of the symphony began;
the theme familiar
inside his head.
Terry Collett Feb 2018
You were picked up at Dover
by the mini-bus. I was already
on-board with three others.

You came and then two more
climbed aboard and the driver
/guide drove on to the ferry.

He parked some place and
we walked along to the bar
on the upper deck. You eyed
all of us and I guess we eyed
you, trying to suss you and
each other out. Two Polish
women stood together(mother
and daughter), a young teacher,
a Yorkshire lass, you and I sat
together at a table; the driver
went off with two others and
played pool. Even then people
paired off. You stuck near me,
avoiding others if you could.

Once we landed in Belgium we
drove to the first base camp.

No tents. We had to spend the
first night stuck in a caravan.

Men slept on the floor in sleeping
bags the women on the beds
in the back. Not a good start
to the trip. We boozed that first
night and ate in the base camp
restaurant. I slept bad on the floor
of the caravan: there wasn't much
room to move around and someone
gave out a snoring sound.
Terry Collett Feb 2018
You felt Anne Frank's house
to be haunted
when we went there
while camping
in Amsterdam.

It had a haunting feel,
I sensed too.

We had coffee
in a small cafe,
then walked through
the various streets.

We'd seen
the Van Gogh art,
then went back
to base camp
to our tent.

We'd bought a few souvenirs
to take back home.

You said you didn't want
to think about that:
the going home part.

You to Scotland
and me to Southern England.

I guessed we'd not meet again;
although we might
keep in touch.

But we didn't.

After parting
I at that London station
we went our separate ways.

I still remember
you waving
until your train
was out of sight,
like a dream
vanishing from.night.
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