summer lovin’ (re-tweaked a bit)

summer lovin’
for two mad weeks
in Mablethorpe,
in Hélène’s mind,
though not in mine,
we were passing strangers,
holiday romancers,
summer buddies
flirting over beachside
cigarettes and ices.
filets mignon – a la carte
tall white wines
plush upholstered
gold card evenings
melting into night.
one afternoon
we arm-in-armed the promenade
playing storm-chicken,
howling in silly voices
against angry waves
and a raging gale.
a street preacher
lurking dry in a doorway
echoed the street,
‘get right with God!’
rain cascaded our faces.
as we cuddled and giggled
he tolled,
‘somewhere, someone, is dying
be glad it is not you…
                                  not yet!’
Mablethorpe could not,
did not,
but elsewhere someone was dying
and it was not us…
not us…
            not yet.
on an expectant drive to Oxford
for autumnal rekindling
of summer passion
I stopped for cellophane roses
from a filling station.
a grey drizzle trip upriver
to Water Eaton.
a subdued lunch
at a pavement cafe
close by the Randolph;
no eye-contact,
sour coffee,
wilted kale,
and halloumi.
at the War Memorial
on Woodstock Road
we parted.
a damp promise of friendship.
a limp handshake.
no kiss.
the scent of Texaco roses
draped about us –
a cloying benediction,
nunc dimittis.
a lingering gaze 
as Hélène walked away.
she did not look round.
she did not wave.
somewhere, someone, was dying –
it felt like my turn,
but my turn was not yet…
                                         not yet.
Hélène set up home with  
an occasionally orthodox
Jewish refugee artist from Riga –
goes by the name of Arvo.
they squat a shoe-box studio
above a bistro in Gospel Oak
sharing moth-eaten
paint-stained Picasso bretons
reeking of oils and turpentine,
they feed on restaurant leftovers,
and ‘are very much in love.’
Hélène paints canvasses;
intricate cityscapes,
which Arvo over-paints
with broad brush rage
obscuring her délicatesse –
but leaving traces.
critics applaud his work, lauding,
‘a significant post-holocaust synthesis.’
Hélène’s charcoal caricatures,
(tourist chiaroscuros – a fiver a throw),
pay for their drinks.
Arvo brawls in pubs regularly
with émigrés;  
mostly Russians
who claim to be Latvian.
sometimes with Irish –
he is not choosy,
he beats her up from time to time.
someone, somewhere, is dying

© coolhermit 2023
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Excellent piece. I imaging this will sound terrific when performed. I love the irony in this familiar tale most of us have experienced in youth and/or between marriages. You capture it very well, bringing me, at least, some bitter-sweet memories. Is this in you next book?

“we arm-in-armed the promenade” . . . . great line.

. . . . I wonder why bastards attract some women?


Tweaked version is excellent with “we arm-in-armed the promenade” sticking in my mind as a hook.


great tweaks! reads even better.

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