How’d We End Up In A Cheap Place Like This?: Poetry by J H Martin

“Drinking Shadows”


“How long have you been here?”








Days appear then disappear

Like the smoke rings

Drifting out from my lips



Hutongs and fireworks

Learning to write words with a brush

Incense and temples

Watching rain glide down sloped tiled eaves

Funerals and care homes

My first drink – aged twelve



“Forever, perhaps…”



Her laughter is as cold

As her fingers are pale



Who she is

Or what she’s doing here

I have no idea

That black dress

And those high heels

Are far too expensive

For a cheap place like this



“No, I meant this country.”

“Yes, I know… A while.”

“I guessed. You speak very well.”

“Oh no, no, no…”



My words are nothing but an illusion

Like our reflections in the mirror behind the bar

As fake as her laughter and her red fingernails

As empty and without substance as our shadows on the floor



“Can I get you another?”



I nod and I smile



Yes, I guess

I have always been here


J H Martin is from London, England but has no fixed abode. His prose and poetry have appeared in a number of places in Asia, Europe and the USA. For more information, please visit: A Coat for a Monkey


Poems curated by FORTH poetry editors.

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