OHIO CAFE – John Bradley

was at the terminus
I slipped out of the slowing tram
before the conductor lifted the rail
it was the thing to do
Hush Puppy boots fixed me
to the surface
of things
there was no fear back then

flashed neon bright
flicked music through its doors
I took it in
giggling booths
hid the sin within
slid the blue Rothman’s packet
from my sleeve
felt the firmness of my slacks
stovepipe tapered to their tips
dressed in Johnny Cash black

pulsated with the jive
“I’ll have a coke,” I slurred
proffered a kind of smile
rolled the cigarette round my lips
lit it with the flame
cupped in my hand
I might say for affect
my hair slicked back
by Brylcreem slid through comb
I dropped a spare coin in the box

measured his swagger to the beat
“Not my choice,” he said
I filled the room full of smoke
then drew it all back in
slowly through my nose
the ash was long
close to dropping off
I touched the ashtray
gently on the bar
“Johnny Cash is a shit!” he leered

was cosmopolitan pink
with spinning skirts
sparkling grins
bodices all held in place
nothing untoward or askew
the coke trickled
down my shirt
he held the bottle high
and shook out the residue
“So what’s Buddy Holly?” I dared
felt the slap across my jaw
saw my fag fly
across the milk bar floor

is now a building
in disguise
“Can I help you?”
was the warm sub-continental smile
I watched that other self
struggle from the floor in mime
came back in wonderment from that time