‘The moments that we share deserve another chance.
Two people with the same sweet memories
Shouldn’t let love pass by’.(4)
You know I barter
my affections so people buy my art
which brings beauty into their empty lives.
And I speculate with my bank balance.
Nothing wrong with that? It’s Capitalism.
And it brings joy to the rich and lonely
with more money than sense. But I suffer.
Art ought to be pure. Life has corrupted mine.
I can’t do the work I want to. What pays
the bills determines it. It’s a shame.
I don’t sleep so well thinking about it.
Yes you are to be pitied. A martyr
to lower things. Living on the pigs back.
You sit on your arse playing Janis Joplin,
sipping the brandy and smoking the fags
that you’ve been gifted by the gendarmes
(confiscated at the Spanish border),
in your rent-free atelier which opens
on the most beautiful bay on the coast.
Most days it looks like a real life Dufy.
Yet I doubt if you give it a second glance.
I prefer to work from photographs.
Artists drop-in to shoot the tramontane
and invite you to their vernissages.
Rich French widows drag you out to free lunch,
ardent for your stories. When you get back
British second homers are queuing outside
They want you to paint their corgis or yacht.
Catalans come clutching snaps of their dead.
So out come the pastels with a deep sigh.
Readies are readies. You’re always ready
with the tracing paper to copy yourself.
In the summer months you eat and drink out
of tourist’s pockets and well, very well, too.
This is your proud boast. They end up clients.
Double the take. Pleasure and profit.
You’re a one-man consumer society.
You consume everything in sight.
And vomit it up so you can start again.
I’m much condemned to have an itching palm.
Still you sit there, you miserable sod,
a cross between Madame Bovary
and Old Goriot, peeling the glass plaques
trophies for police brutality awards.
Sixty euros each for ten minutes work.
But that’s small change. Lesbian collectors
commission self-portraits for their young things
in the style of Tamara de Lempicka.
You make good dosh. Still cadge to cover
luxury items. You must be rolling.
But all you talk of is not having a sou.
Does your Bella gamble it all away
in the casino at Le Boulou.
I’d love to see your third account in Bern,
or your palace of gold in the mountains.
It would put paid to your money grumbles.
I work hard. But would earn more as a barman.
I suffer fools gladly and for my art.
The odd dab’s what you do for the good life,
and you consider yourself ill-done by.
The world is a blank cheque for you to sign.
And are you grateful? You miserable sod.
You want more, and an offshore account.
‘You’re only a little less than wonderful’
yourself. But I don’t throw your faults in your face.
A friend should bear his friend’s infirmities.
I point them out when you practice them on me.
A friendly eye would never see such faults.
It’s the indifferent that turn a blind eye.
You’ve painted yourself into a corner,
A commercial one.
I know what’s behind all this. Your saying
‘I’d rather be a dog and bay the moon
than read your Dark Years’. The unread author
takes it out on the nearest sod with two eyes.
Christ, if you were God, you’d thunderbolt down
‘Read My Good Book, Or You’ll Be Hearing From Me’.
You wrong yourself to write. You’re such a case.
If you want readers try being readable.
So you haven’t read Dark Years. Now I know.
You swore to me otherwise. Said you liked it,
but it wasn’t Patrick O’Brien or Dudley Pope.
I should have lied through my few remaining teeth.
I only read it because I know you.
You should know me better than to say that.
I speak as a friend, and for your own good.
You wouldn’t want me to flatter to deceive.
Fair cop, you want to get your back on me
for telling you what you didn’t wish to hear.
Although it’s what you told me yourself
when you were feeling good about poor Yann.