Another Brief Encounter

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A Ten Minute Sketch

Character: A man and a woman

Scene: small shop, counter, woman standing behind the counter placed slightly to stage left, at an angle on the stage so that she and the man can be seen in full profile) tidying things as the man walks on stage from stage right-hesitates, looking out to the audience, hesitates, then turns and approaches the counter.

Woman. (looking the man over)  Good afternoon, 

Man. Good afternoon.  (He looks at things on display as she continues to tidy while watching him. The objects can just be suggested)

Woman. Can I help you find something?

Man. Perhaps, I don’t know what I’m looking for really.

Woman. Then everything can be considered. Is it for you or a gift?

Man. For a friend, well, more than a friend, a woman, at least…

Woman. Without knowing what she means to you makes it difficult for me to recommend anything. Your wife, perhaps?

Man. No, but we had plans, anyway we talked about it-I’m not sure now, you see, she’s not well and I wanted….

Woman. To cheer her up.

Man. That would be difficult, she’s ill, might be dying in fact.

Woman. Oh, I’m sorry. Is there no hope?

Man. That’s just it, I’m not sure. She won’t return my calls now. We had an argument about it yesterday. She was fine one minute, angry the next. Told me to forget about her. Said she didn’t have much time left, wanted to be alone.

Woman. But you can’t be?

Man. Love doesn’t’ just end when someone hangs up the phone.

Woman.  But, if that’s what she wants…

Man. If I knew that, it would be simple, but she does this quite a bit. Stops calling, Hangs up on me, tells me she’s dying, then days later will call as if nothing happened.  Now I’m not sure what to think, so I thought I would get her a gift.

Woman. And buy your way back? 

Man. No, not at all, show my concern, my affection. 

Woman. Isn’t it the same thing?

Man. Is that what I’m doing? Trying to buy her love?

Woman. I can’t say but it seems too late – perhaps you should move on.

Man.  That sounds like giving up. But I’ve never been good with reality.

Woman. Maybe she’s testing you.  Is she your age? 

Man. She’s younger. (a beat) Of course, I can see what you’re thinking, and we talk about that a lot, when we talk that is, and about the other issue between us?

Woman. You’re married? 

Man. I know what you’re thinking.  It’s typical, and I never saw myself as the typical man. To find I am is depressing me. 

Woman.  Or to be a typical woman.

Man. You too?

Woman. It ended a year ago, my affair.  As for my marriage, well, We pretend we’re very sophisticated. But, in the end it’s very tiring.

Man. What does it all mean then? I don’t know anymore. I don’t even know why I’m talking to you like this, just walked in off the street.  I’m sorry.

Woman. Oh, don’t be. It’s been a slow day and when there’s not much to do, the mind tends to wander into all sorts of places.  

Man. I.m not sure what you mean?

Woman. Well, there’s got to be more to life than just the living, don’t you think? 

Man. Yes, but I’ve no idea what that is.

Woman. Love. What is there without love? Just the dreary day to day.  Isn’t that why you’re here? 

Man. For what?

Woman, For your love of this woman. (she laughs) Have you forgotten here already? (She almost twirls away from as she pretends to rearrange the items on the counter.

Man (Now a bit confused by what is happening but can’t help himself.) I, uh, I, yes, …for a moment, she passed right out of my mind. 

Woman. Something bothering you? Come on, the truth, if you dare. (She moves closer to him, this time just touching items as she moves)

Man  A dare, I didn’t really come here to be dared, but alright, why not, Yes, The way you moved, what can I say, it mesmerised me.

Woman. Mesmerised you?

Man It was like stepping through a magic door into another world.

Woman. Why do you think that is?

Man. No, now its your turn. Why did you make that move. Why did you want me in that spell or know I’d like it?

Woman. Because it makes us feel alive. 

Man. (Moving closer to her) You’re pretty fast are’t you. What about the lady I came in here for?

Woman. What about her? And my husband, what about him? What’s this got to do with them?

Man. Look, don’t get me wrong, I feel strongly attracted to you, but we have obligations, why should we hurt others, betray them for….

Woman. For what? For real life. To feel alive. As for hurt feelings. Well sometimes the moment overwhelms you, all those things holding you back, the chains are thrown off.

Man. (Suddenly stepping back) I’m not comfortable where this is going, I think I should leave, (he turns to exit stage right)

Woman. You haven’t bought your friend a gift. You might as well, now you’re here. 

Man. (Hesitates, steps forward) Yes, I suppose, why not. What do you suggest for the woman I described?

Woman. Another man. 

Man, “What are you doing later?”

Woman,  “You need to ask?

End

Spring Is Here

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Spring is here, the grass is green and warming is the air,

As scudding clouds ride colder winds, above the trees still bare,

Which spread their arms to greet the sun that rises from the lands,

Where dreams are woven out of night, oases from the sands,

But strange, I see a possum, in a place it shouldn’t be,

Perhaps a warming refugee from its home in Tennessee,

Walking down a country lane, past groups of stranger birds,

That cannot fly, but run so fast, it seems they live in herds,

While squirrels are looking ragged, unsure what coat to choose,

For first it’s warm and then it’s cold, it’s easy to confuse,

You see, the seasons are upended, and nothing’s as it was,

And once could think, in just a blink, this was the land of Oz,

But now a vulture overhead that flew from Mexico,

Circles slowly round my head, I think I’d better go,

To play Vivaldi once again, and dance a barcarolle

To remember how it used to be, and satisfy my soul.

Behold, She Walks The Room As Though A Queen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behold, she walks the room as though a queen,

Who rules alone where death has been,

Silent as the scented air,

That curls around her greying hair,

Fingers bare and intertwined,

Her eyes aflame, her face now lined,

For yesterday they sent her word,

Her sons had died or so they’d heard,

In wars she could not understand,

The reasons why, the marching band,

Or why the crowds called out for more,

Until the din became a roar,

And off they marched while singing songs,

To right the world and all its wrongs,

So were told the young and bold,

For so it goes from times of old,

And then in through an open door,

Like a broken wave upon a shore,

Comes a man she barely knows,

Transfigured by a world of woes,

Who moved towards her in a daze,

Aging with each change of gaze,

And raised his head from off his chest,

He really tried to do his best,

But sorrow is a heavy weight,

And always come when it’s too late,

Who said with slow and feeble breath,

We were foolish, we were proud,

We listened to that howling crowd,

Now all we have is emptiness,

Please, let’s sit and share our tears,

For missing sons, the wasted years,

For what else is left but you, and I,

A world destroyed, and all the rest, oblivion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Northern Climes When Winter Comes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In northern climes when winter comes

And heads bow before the wind,

Happy times can spring to mind,

Like visions in a dream,

Of kisses in a car’s back seat,

On a gentle summer’s night

Hands moving in the dark

Entwining eyes and limbs,

Of toboggans packed with arms and legs,

Racing wildly down the snow,

Of donkeys walking on the beach,

And Punch and Judy shows,

When friends were yours forever,

Though they be so very few,

When love was possibility;

And revolution in the air,

For death was then unknown to us,

Despite the daily news,

We never gave much thought to that,

Were content to play the game.

 

We Never Taste A Perfect Wine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We never taste a perfect wine,

Nor live for long in happiness,

The path we walk is thorny flint,

We walk alone there, side by side,

 

The sun awakes the flower’s bloom,

The rain, the sleeping seeds,

But sometimes in my dreams I hear

Faint whispers of the sea,

 

Which bore our ship on heaving waves,

Through storm and diamond ice,

Through fears and  through misgivings,

The old world to the new,

 

Which appeared to us in glitter,

That first night in New York,

When a taxi man drove us round

And a black man eased our pain

 

On the journey north by clicking rail,

To a land that lay in snow,

Where new troubles borne of old,

To regrets gave birth anew.

 

We never taste a perfect wine,

Nor live for long in happiness,

The path we walk is thorny flint,

We walk alone there, side by side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Soldier Had A Puzzled Look

 

 

 

 

 

 

The soldier had a puzzled look,

His gun had jammed, so read a book,

That told him all he thought he knew,

While bullets flew just past his head,

Of knights and kings, and all they slew,

And wondered then if it was true,

The things they said about the dead,

 

But then there came the feared command,

To make their prayers for one more stand,

For peace at last without regrets,

At which they cursed and cried,

Fumbling with their bayonets,

They owed the slain too many debts,

The sea of blood was wide.

 

They didn’t know the enemy, the reason they were there,

Some said this and some said that and some just didn’t care,

For living wasn’t easy but graves they gave you free,

So, ready for the killing, but trembling as he stood,

Wondered where the gods were, oh, why they didn’t see,

The shattered earth and corpses, from mountain to the sea,

And what in us is worth a damn, is any bloody good.

 

November Month

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November month is cold and grey,

A time for books, for films, and tea,

When loneliness walks in the door,

And sits with sadness in the gloom,

When trees shed tears that fall as leaves,

And clouds in mourning gather round,

As mouldy men in dusty rooms,

Count their days in dividends.

 

 

 

 

When I Was Young

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I was young, oh just a lad,

there came to me a man,

who wore a coat festooned with stars

and on his face a mask,

that changed its shape as shadows do

when winds move through the grass,

who asked me where he’d lost his way,

but who was I to ask

of mysteries of that kind,

so since I had no answers

he turned to go his way, and groaned,

‘oh, why this cruel and futile task?’

The Denouement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spread deep beneath these veiling thoughts 

Twists the tangled vine of I,

Rooted in the darkest depths,

Where saints and monsters lie,

All tangled with each other, even as I die,

Whose roots are sunk in ancient times,

When first we sat before the flame

And talked in wonder of the world,

Of our sorrows and our shame,

And so began our futile quest for gods to share the blame,

That led us, as though blinded, 

up that shrouded, misty peak

where Illusion’s understanding,

made mad those who dared to speak,

with spells and incantations, the truths we all did seek,

We stare into a vast unknown,

we’re a million years too late,

have come no further than the caves,

though Lucretius tried to set us straight,

on our origins and fate,

of the riddle of the universe, 

that with us became aware, 

of existence as a solitude

the very gods can’t  bear,

and so invented us, we say, their loneliness to share.

But, my time has run, the lights are dimmed,

I take position on the stage,

to play at last the denouement, 

some say was written by a sage,

who stained with tears his each and every page.

 

Fill Your Glass

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rains are falling, rivers rising, dogs howl the lowering sky,

descending as a darkness drawn from heavens’ sigh

for every each and one of us who’s asked the question why,

and never heard an answer, and so, in mystery, die.

 

For the gods are gone, have fled the scene, there’s nothing left but pain,

so fill your glass and sing a song, to live, to laugh again,

or maybe find that love you lost, that vision on a train,

on your way to Malaga, when nothing seemed in vain.