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This poem is taken from PN Review 272, Volume 49 Number 6, July - August 2023.

Outfitters Tom Pickard
February 20th

The house was in chaos, but we talked.
‘You’ll never find your way back. I mean, how could you? Ever?’
One of the girls on the bed took off her bra and we embraced.
‘Can I stay and sleep for a while, I’m tired?’

February 25th   

Foggy. Light wind and drizzle. The café, silent – which means, when they close (for the rest of the week), the lasses will bring me the unsold food that hasn’t passed its sell-by date. At mid-afternoon there’s a shuffling of seats and a few cheerful voices are audible through the partition between the café and my room, against which I’ve built a floor to ceiling bookcase to reduce the sound.

To allay cage fever I walked into a thick roak, to photograph anything that aspired to an outline, and heard a biker accelerate into oblivion’s foggy masticating maw.

February 26th       

As we stood on a balcony, she laid her warm cheek against my neck.
‘I wish you wouldn’t move away from here.’
As though her here were her. I turned aside, sorrowful, ‘it’s difficult’.  
The Velux windows that face each other, west to east, are slightly open and an icy northeaster, on a long leash down from the Arctic, snaps, howls and lurches through powerlines with fast pugnacious gusts that hit the floor and shake it.

‘They took him to the hospital, and the nurse came oot and said to the lad who was waiting, you might as well get yourself a cup of coffee because as soon as Eric seen the needle he fainted.’

‘Load of fucking shite.’

‘He’s got three stitches in his brow; you can see the scar, and the nurse said she’d take them oot. These two lads had to take him there.’

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