Roughly he roams the streets

In chewing gum shoe boots with

Hard boiled sweets lining his pockets

Sticking to stray strands of tobacco.


Without home nor base he is

Free, untethered and unconnected.

The dust filled lines on his face

Tell you better than he, where he has been.


His throat, a smoke chimney and eyes

Pickled in whiskey for forty odd years,

Bones rattle inside toughened skin like a

Small car driven too fast for too long.


Cursed with the stamina to outstay his welcome

He has watched his friends grow old

And die in their mid forties, leaving him

Alone. The last of his generation.


Fame finally found him late in life

And he is now beleaguered by children

Enamoured by the romance of a bohemian lifestyle.

Enamoured by squalor and poverty.


They sit crossed legged and wish to hear

About the gin-joins the whores

The bar fights and colourful characters

But not about the times he cried himself to sleep.


He does not bother to tell them that

In all the time he lived alone without

Friends or money or amenities and only

Whiskey for warmth and company, in all that time


He would dream with such longing for

Warm water and hot meals, a warm body

In the bed and a simple routine that did not involve

Waking as the sun went down then drinking it back up.


Yet still they come to visit

A pilgrimage of sorts, seeking wisdom they

Sit at his feet gazing up in awe at this

Old, old man, who has lived for so very long


This old, old man who has done it all

Yet has little to show. He has

No advice to give. He tells them as much

And still they leave enlightened.


There was once a time when he wrote with

Eyes wide and wondrous. He wrote of love

And the barely containable excitement

Of just being alive. But those days are gone.


The years of failure and solitude weighed down heavily.

The youthful exuberance compacted,

Hidden under jaded sediment of cynicism.

It is this misanthropy that brought him the fame


And infamy he so desired in his youth

Was it all worth it? He thinks as he

Coughs up blood and black tar into the sink

He never sold out but not for want of trying


A punk till the end and finally recognised.

Like a dog chasing itself he now

Rides along on the coat tails of

The younger generation who rode up on his.


Like a lighthouse he is both a beacon

And a warning, stay away from the rocks

Or crash on through at your peril

He is you if you make the right wrong decisions.


By James Price

One Response to “Beat”
  1. Killer descriptions! I love it!

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