Si Philbrook: Love Songs

Down by The Canal

I met her in a smokey
old town bar
Down by the canal,
On a jazz playing
whiskey warmed night,
She wore a long red gypsy skirt
Held tight around her thin waist
White leather belt,
She smelt good, Sunday morning warm.

Drank cognac and read a book,
Kahlil Gibran,
I was intimidated,
Fascinated, intrigued,
Her beauty.

Her eyes
Lit by the flickering fire
Danced bright.

I was tongue tied
Tripped and tumbling,
Trembling, I said hello,
Hardly adequate.

We talked
She talked to me,
To me,
I bought drinks
Agreed too earnestly
Said too much,
She teased, laughed,
Held my arm
to see my wristwatch,
her touch,
She had to go
Meet a friend,
She said she’d see me

I walked home alone
down by the old canal,
The cold, stinking, dirty,
beautiful old canal,

Her touch.


Sitting on the Tube Thinking about my Girl

This is life
This dirty smoke-choked town,
Ugly paint-peeled tumble-down walls,
I love it,
I love the smells
Rough ‘n’ ready, giddy,

This is life
Rain soaked Saturday
Sodden streets,
Buskers playing out of doorways,
Saxophone sounds softer through the rain
City sharp days
Made rain soft.

This is life
Me and you
Soft-lipped, cold-nosed,
Tip-toe kisses,
Tip-toe touching,
Puddle jumping
Doorway to doorway.

This is life
Taxi cabs loud with diesel
The wind and rain
Umbrella blown days
Rain stained streets
Broken down old town tramps
Ask you for money.

My girl lives in the
Sounds of jazz,
Sounds of the haphazard
upside-down built city,
This is life
crackling firefly,
tinderbox life.



I went down to Covent Garden
To listen to the cappuccino machines.

I watched the scruffy lovers
playing beatnik tricks,
They wore tackety kickabout boots
Tied up with string.

She sang
as he tapped out a tune
on his tatty old acoustic,
It rained
It rained on their peaked black caps
and their odd socks,
They stole kisses from the rain.

I watched, I watched as
the touch-torn lovers
the lip-bitten lovers
the scruffy lovers,

Tumble down days
Made tatty with love,

What we are
Is love.


Canal Song

I met him in a smokey
old town bar,
Down by the canal,

He made me laugh
I remember that,
He had such funny eyes,

We talked
I don’t know what we said,
He blushed
I liked that,
The men I’ve known don’t blush.

He interested me
That’s all,
No big words, emotions,
He was interesting
Unusual, I suppose,

I left to see how Claire was
with the baby,
It was weeks before we met again,

Why couldn’t he see,
Why can’t they ever see
that love
can be slow.


Fragments of Love

We made love on her bedroom floor
to the sound of an old gas fire
and ticking clock
and our breath,

It seems strange now
At home again
But time is nothing,
Age nothing,
All there is, all we will remember,
Is the gentleness of moment,

She held me
I loved her
And I learnt from her,
But I learnt only
that I do not understand love.

We listened to old jazz records
scratched and tattered
and more romantic for it,
And we lay in her bed
And she held me so tightly
as if I mattered
as if she needed me,
She told such lies.

I remember the panes of glass
of her attic window,
I remember I rubbed one clean
to see the snow on the tree tops
in the park,
And when I turned back
she was asleep,

I looked out again
Wintertime tumbling out of the sky
Sharp, crisp, cold,
Love is not like winter
but hurts
winter hurt.


Fragment of a Night

Drank Friday night
into Saturday morning,
Jazz bar juke box played Nina Simone,
Sweated out a chit-chat chat-up
With a bar stool floozy,
Ate peanuts,
I don’t even like peanuts.



I want to hear a sound
that is not the wind,
Give me words that stay,
You touch
You gently touch,
Nose against nose
Kiss for kiss
Breath for breath
and you think that is love,

I want to feel a warmth
that is not the sun,
Feel you near me
With me in the cold
Hold me tightly
touch for touch
word for word,

I want a love from you
that is not torn by your desires,
Fire on burning fire is your love
I am burnt
And torn
And broken,
by your love,

I want to hear a sound
that is not the wind,
taking me
and leaving me torn.



Wood-smoking warm
Early autumn days,
The dampness of the leaves
And me,
Trying to light the fire
Giving up
and dousing it with petrol,
More than once I singed my hands.

That time I stuck the chainsaw in the tree
Me, and Dad,
He had to pull the tree down with the tractor,
We laughed,
There was such a crack
as it fell.

Wood-smoking warm
Early autumn days,
Lazily collecting the wood
Coughing as the wind turned,
Smoke choked eyes,
Sitting on the woodpile
Tea from the thermos,
All of this
These small things

Laughing at the jokes
my father told,
The love,
The warmth of the fire against my face,
Sitting in the back of the tractor,
Bumping home,
This soft love
Is where I begin.

Wood-smoking warm
Early autumn days,
Quiet times spent with my father,

These gentle times
These small things,



My Grandfather broke his back
for love,
He told me stories
Such beautiful stories,
I was the match-girl
became the Princess,
dances and chocolates
laughter and raindrops
All the words in all the world
were his.

My Grandfather died of cancer
I was too young to feel it,
to feel the loss
to understand the strength
with which he bore his pain.

Sometimes I think I hear his voice
his laughter,
Deep and unrestrained

His untamed love.

My Grandfather would have died for love
But he just died,
Is that how love is?
So unforgiving.


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