Lesley Quayle – three poems

One Night Stand

She’s first up.
From the window
she watches the sky
spit in the gutters.

Dishevelled by the night,
with yesterday’s dark glamour
she watches.

Stale as old beer and
rank as the crammed ashtray
he emerges.
Yesterday’s head collides with today.

Slams the door.

From the window
she watches him
spit in the gutter.

Ceci n’est pas une date

Here was the moment when it came apart,
a judder, scrape of tyres on a gravel lane, crank
of unco-operative gears. Hours parked, the old car
jacked aslant beneath a burst of elder, bramble and
the ancient crones of ash trees, rattling their seeds,
you sweating, grunting, musked by heat and toil,
the wheel-nuts rusted, each wrench and slip of brace
a petite mort. Hope rises
only to fall on its arse.

Hot-blooded in your rage, you threw the brace
I watched it spin over yellow grass,
skim straggled sycamores and split the sky.
You looked like a young god, kneeling, head down,
damp curls tender on the nape of your neck,
shirt sculpted to your body in dark patches.
I lay down beside you, mapped in soil and grit,
silent, unfamiliar then with the lexicon of lust,
unconcerned with rescue plans,
squinting at clouds,
the graffiti of birds.

When the Coo Coughs A Cuddy

Brought up on the ‘Orange’ side
of the Glasgow Road, between the park
and the dirty eddies of the Clyde
seeping down to the dog track,

every Saturday we pressed
our noses to the window panes
to see the gabardines and bunnets process
their skinny, muzzled greyhounds

up the scheme, heard Uncle Dan
slip out the house, his pockets loaded,
as if grandma didn’t know him better than
the back road home – blindfolded.

“He’ll be back the nicht, fu’ o’ drink,
wi nuthin but a hole in his pocket.”
We were being scrubbed-dunked in the sink,
skinned rabbits, wish-bone thin, a dripping racket

of scabby knees and rosy cheeks before the fire,
when we heard the back door scrape, felt the bite
of snell air as he swept on through, a slur
of whisky on his greeting, the cold, smoked night

following behind him through the room
and out into the drafty, unlit lobby,
“Did ye win?” “Naw. Mebbe next time, mebbe soon.”
“Aye, mebbe. Mebbe when the coo coafs a cuddy?”

Lesley Quayle is a poet, author and folk/blues singer, currently living in Dorset. Her poems have appeared in The North, Tears in the Fence, The Spectator, Stares Nest, Yorkshire Post, BBC Wildlife Magazine, Ink Sweat & Tears, Screech Owl, Prole, Black Sheep Journal, Pennine Platform, Second Light and Message in a Bottle (amongst others). She’s the author of a chapbook, Songs For Lesser Gods (erbacce, 2009) and a full collection, Sessions (Indigo Dreams, 2013).


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