He Left His Soul On The Floor by Matthew J. Hall

the bird stepped from the wire
and fell like a dead burden of feathers
the man watched and thought, suicide

moments before impact the bird
spread its wings and took flight
disappearing into a dreary sky

his fellow pedestrians
a mass of swinging bags and barging shoulders
had not noticed the bird

he stepped into the road
at a pace wholly at odds
with the angry traffic
but the drivers only acknowledged him
as an incomplete thought

past the far side of the street
at the foot of the food market’s hill
there was a chalk sketch of a seaside love scene
on a pavement slab

beside the drawing sat
a tip jar
an open can of Special Brew
a tin of coloured chalk sticks
and the artist

the man
from two backward paces
saw something in the picture
and he couldn’t stop looking at it

he couldn’t see the chalked lover’s faces
but he could see they were happy
they were headed towards the sea
which the artist had created, warm and inviting

her hair and his open shirt
waved and flapped in the summer breeze
they were comfortable in each other’s secrets
his fingertips were tucked into the waist of her shorts
resting there, on her furthest hip

they knew how to fuck
how to make love
how to fight
how to fall and breathe

the man stood there like that, staring
he thought about love and loneliness
he thought about the city and suicidal birds
he wondered about happiness and the
romance of the coast

he named the pair
he called them Errol and Claire
and he knew what it meant
to hear your name spoken by the voice
of the one you love

he knew that Errol and Claire
had a hidden place on the beach
where Errol had kissed Claire’s inner thighs
pulled down her shorts
taken in her warmth, her scent, her taste

take me, Errol
she had said,
take me,
and he did

the artist shook his tip jar
I’ve poured my soul onto the floor, he said
are you going to grin at it like an idiot
or are you going to pay for it?

the man put a ten pound note
and a five pound note in the jar
which, excluding spare change
was exactly half of what he had to his name

the artist picked up his tin of chalk
and his can of Special Brew
and hurried away with his earnings
he left his soul on the floor

mathew-hall

Matthew J. Hall’s poetry chapbook, Pigeons and Peace Doves, is available through Blood Pudding Press. He reviews small press books at http://www.screamingwithbrevity.com

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