Three Poems

Hugo Williams

Bar Italia

How beautiful it would be to wait for you again
in the usual place,
not looking at the door,
keeping a look out in the long mirror,
knowing that if you are late
it will not be too late,
knowing that all I have to do
is wait a little longer
and you will be pushing through the other customers,
out of breath, apologetic.
Where have you been, for God’s sake?
I was starting to worry.

How long did we say we would wait
if one of us was held up?
It’s been so long and still no sign of you.
As time goes by, I search other faces in the bar,
rearranging their features
until they are monstrous versions of you,
their heads wobbling from side to side
like heads on sticks.
Your absence inches forward
until it is standing next to me.
Now it has taken the seat I was saving.
Now we are face to face in the long mirror.

Unobtainable

Whether it was putting in an extra beat
or leaving one out, I couldn’t tell.
My heart seemed to have forgotten
everything it ever knew
about timing and co-ordination
in its efforts to get through to someone
on the other side of a wall.
As I lay in bed, I could hear it
hammering away inside my pillow,
being answered now and then
by a distant guitar-note of bedsprings,
pausing for a moment, as if listening,
then hurrying on as before.

Billy’s Rain

When I’m lying awake, listening to rain
hammering on the roof,
the phrase comes back to me,
our code for ‘Let’s get out of here.’
We were huddled in the back of a van
with the lights, the videotape equipment
and the man with the rain machine.
‘Why can’t we use the regular rain?’ you asked,
as rain hammered on the roof.
‘That’s God’s rain,’ said someone.
‘It doesn’t show up on film.
We need Billy’s rain for this one.’
When I find myself soaked to the skin, tired,
or merely bored with God’s rain,
the phrase comes back to me.
I’d say it now if I thought you were listening.