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Autumn Ferrara


I - Jules et Jim

‘I called one Jules and one Jim . . .
. . . . And they are both in love with me’
- my Mother

As the uni students leave the library
And plan their evenings sprite and lively
They gather round Old Georgey’s square
Rolling baccy in the wintry air
While across town, we sit upright
Round Jules’ table we lay tight
To hear of what awaits us later
The pub, the art school, the weekly theatre

That January day they sang together
Against the darkening winter weather
Gainsbourg, DeAndre, Cohen etc
Jules robbed the ‘tar from Jimmy’s teather
Yet they cried aloud, a band of brothers
Awaiting lassies in their dozens
Jules said Jim, you are my brother
N’ handed him a shot another

Jim was so gentle, kind and gracious
And Jules so smart, so cool, capricious
They loved another as bredren do
In their common march towards the poon

But my oh my that Friday night
Long Mayfield Road they traipsed divinely
Our bonnie lassies, neat and tidy
Round his elbow the steel guitar
As they ‘eard the doorbell afar
They strolled downstairs and bore their time
Old Jules and Jim, two twins in crime
And I tell you now, they were so pretty
That night in Scotland’s ancient city
While Übs and cabs charged long the street
They greet the ladies cheek to cheek

By this time my friends it must be said
They were two bottles in and feeling dead
But countless cigs and shots of bucky
Restored our heroes to their lively
Greetings ‘Hello, hey, looking great!’
Come up my dears, Let’s drink let’s eat

And more and more they chirpsed so merry
Chasers, olives, plus wine and sherry
Despite the hubbub ‘twas still early
Six o’clock but the stars shone pearly
Above the room in the sky pitch black
The moon so full, insomniac

At eight began the exhibition
Not to go would be sedition
For our ladies were for the most part painters
Sculptors, creatives, hipsters, ravers
And politely yet, the invitation
To come to Jules’ pithy mansion
They’d accepted soon, without regret
For Jules was sly and mad and yet
A superb host, most entertaining
Funny, witty, always shaming
Jim or Bob or Steve or Si
To be the butt of his jokes so wry
But no hard feelings for the time at least
As they drink and eat and dine and feast

(Lookn’ at the table, in the clouds of smoke
Jim gazed at the crusty, ash-topped oak

And saw Mara move across the room
Making his thoughts flutter and swoon
His heart was racing as she drew closer
Without a clue, he called her over
‘What?’ she smirked, and pulled up her leg
And placed it over Jim and said
_ - _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _. _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _. _

She smiled a smile that lit up the room
Like a raging furnace where harpies swoon
‘These violent delights, have violent ends’
So maybe it’s best we stay as friends…

(In that moment while they played on the sofa
Someone called a fleet of Übers over
Three chaps in there, two lots in this
The rest of them off on the mist
Charged up the street, or jumped on buses
Or maybe a couple pumped up tyres
And cycled fast up one of the hills
That pair our city with Roma’s still
Jim on the bike, Jules in the cabbie
Soon enough they reached the gallery.)

II – Gallery and Inn

By the time of Jim’s arrival
Those in cars were inside the art hall
So Jim rustled his coat and brushed his hair
Snuck in through the door, and saw Jules with the fair
Mara, chirpsing like a canary in a cage
Jim tried to stay passive and stave off his rage
When Jules turned his head and sniggered askance
And whispered in her ear a joke prepared in advance
Jim simply acquiesced in being derided
By a friend in whom he’d always confided
One day he’d decided he’d show him his place
But the Edinburgh Art school wasn’t the place

So he tried to enjoy the rest of the evening
With the statues and frescoes sprawled ‘cross the ceiling
But the beautiful works were just a distraction
From Jimmy’s flawed and fatal attraction
For Mara with her wild and crazy locks
Crashing and whirling like waves in the docks
An Italian Scirocco or Cumbrian Helm
Slowly he woke from his frenzied chelm

He shook and blinked and rubbed his eyes
And fantasized of cutting ties
With Mara, Jules and all the group
And departing to some far-off coup
Where he’d hide away on a garden terrace
Above the street and all the tenements
Smoke cigars in the midday sun
A happy, hapless wounded no-one

In quiet suspense Jim gazed from afar
At Mara, her nape, tilted slightly ajar
A distant foal in a fine blue cardigan
Candid like a highland ptarmigan
She floated over, like a flake of dust
Weightless in shards of light and sun

She smiled as she lay a hand on his shoulder
But Jim daydreamed and thought of the altar
Eventually her presence sobered him good
Held himself together as best he could

The group assembled and reconnoitred
A trip to the pub was what they wanted
Ambling and strolling out the gallery doors
For once at least it hadn’t poured
Though this far north the wind it blew
Chilly and freezing our poor wee crew
They wrapped their coats as tight as they could
With clouds of mist puffing out their lapels and hoods
A five minute walk across ‘The Meadows’
To their favourite inn ‘The Bonnie Gallows’
They arrived and went over to their favourite spot
Away from the door where it was nice and hot
Slowly they peeled off their coats and jackets
N’ walked up to the bar for a couple of packets
Of crisps . . ridged, McCoys Salt n’ Vinegar
And to drink . . well of course a pint of porter
Stout, warm and dark, the thickest treacle
Frothy as North sea foam, a soupy miracle
Deep in the celtic realms of the Ole’ BG
They raised their pint glasses, ‘one, two three!’
Sobriety shattered, inebriation restored
Jim and Jules grinned like two maddened boars.

III – Walk to Club and Club

They strolled up Buccleuch St, past half-highed junkies
In Adidas tracksuits, emaciated monkeys
‘Eyy Pal!, Pal! Pal! Pal! Pal! Pal!’ one wastrel cried
‘Ney Pal ! Ney Pal Ney Pal!’ his pal replied
It transpired their acquaintance Stanlio
Was already at the Bongo Bongo
Shoveling ket up his nose no doubt
Rivers of snot running from his snout

Our troop trotted over the Old Town’s cobbles
Not a care in the world, not a bicker or squabble
From the constant rain that left the tenements faded
In the dingy gutter the girls paraded
The lads picked fights and drank watery beer
Tennent’s, the colour of piss, weak and clear

A line poked out of one of the arch walls
And a booming emerged ‘mong the shouts and calls
Of the drunk students that lined the street
Jim began moving his head to the beat
Dunz, dunz, dunz, this was dutty
This was a riddim constant and hearty
The club was lit up like a groovy inferno
Inside they served cocktails and shots in-eterno
In the line a few roll-ups and gentle chit chatter
But soon enough it was back to the matter
They were inside the club, monging out once again
Straight to the bar in order to spend
Exuberant amounts on rum and tequila
Jim waved at the barman but then he could feel a
Sweaty hand on his shoulder, he turned it was Stanley
With a snowy nose and grin from the mandy

They found a bench ensconced in the corner
And now and then looked over their shoulder
For bouncers and the like, or scroungers and bums
This Ket was for them, the keys ‘tween their thumbs

Jim and Stan ambled in a maze of confusion
Deep in the vaults a purple profusion
From the dance floor awaited - a steaming den
A nest of yaaass and dishonest men
The ceiling low, the walls all black
A tiny door to come in from the back
Jim entered with Stan then looked about for the group
Despite his efforts – no sign of the troop
He sat alone off to the side
Between coats and bags he stared at the fried
Partygoers, gurning and bobbing
Strange pale faces, moving about the sodding
Night, what a rout, where were his friends
He felt it always the same in the end
Alone by himself, waiting for company
He spotted Jules grinning with mighty glee
Amidst the girls, in the shimmer of the lights he
Bobbed and grooved, shimmied and wooed
Jim cruised over as he gurned and chewed
By now he was charged with most every substance
As for his impulsive habits, unrepentance

This was the peak and where it should’ve ended
When the fun stops, stop . . well . . that depended
Jim moved to Mara, she turned and swivelled
Over the the bassy beat she couldn’t hear his snivels
Into his obliques she moved her hips
Then turned to reveal her open lips
Agape she pressed them onto his
Jim was a mug, but this sitter he couldn’t miss
He saw Jules emerge in his field of vision
In that precious moment a ghastly elision
_ - - _ _ _ _ _ _ -_ - - - - - -
Later they regrouped in the smoking area
Deciding it best to head in the midnight air
To walk the long mile to Jules’ apartment
In wagons or on foot, the group departed
To the comfy abode ‘n the after party warm-hearted
This would be the height, til’ death do us part
Until we pass out from the ultimate clart
Spirits these were, the two golden charms
Falling asleep in vomit or arms
Of genteel women or gentile men
‘Til the crisp song of the morning wren

They gathered in a circle of chairs at first
An enormous carafe emerged as though from a hearse
At first they didn’t know what was this syrup
So sweet, imbibed without a hiccup
Sure enough, it was pure vodka
Mixed with sugar and fruit and extra
In this giant glass, mad Jules force fed us
Like geese with paté foolish and precious
He made us toast embarrassing speeches
As he giggled and laughed in high-pitched screeches
But this man was lovely, the mess he created
Of young men and women, the blessed and ill-fated.

@pinkkudu writes memoiristic poetry in prose and in rhyme. He previously lived and studied in Edinburgh, now he lives and works in Italy, splitting his time between the two grand cities of Piombino and Ferrara.