For Amy Winehouse

It was in the bricked-off ground floor of a terraced house
On the last leg of a tube line heading to nowhere,
Where my jeans grew wet just to lie on the carpet,
Mildew lined the wall of my built-in wardrobe,
And we listened to an Indian couple our age
Having disappointing sex on the back of our ceiling,
That my girlfriend first started to play me your songs.

She had worked on a paper the year before,
A free local rag in a Bedfordshire town
Which had sent her some place like Milton Keynes
To cover a concert where you’d played support,
Fresh out of Brit School, wearing a mini-skirt,
Dancing all kitschy and making a start of it.

I emptied at least two bottles of red
Every night of the week in that ill-lit flat,
Burnt marijuana and Jeff Buckley incense,
Staggered to bed and woke well into work.
We were soundtracking babysteps into oblivion.
You were drinking the dawn in, hotel to hotel.

I was trying to work out a method of writing
My name on a canvas behind the sky,
And failing of course, and filling the hole
With booze and a growing loss of control.
You were putting the work in convincing the world
You could be far too famous for people like me,
Who are simply afraid of what everyone knows
And jealous of that which we choose to enjoy.

When the work paid off and you crossed the divide
It became all too clear that somewhere you’d switched sides
While you crawled on the floor with a glass in your sights
To be met by an upskirt seeking lens
Now happily clicking you into confusion.
You wanted success and we all want the same.
You were chosen to live out the void centre-stage.

An army of us steal drinks in the shadows,
Stashing vodka in coats on the way out of parties,
Palming the last flask of white at weddings,
Searching the tables at dead corporate dinners,
Keeping quietly hammered through work afternoons.
But your job was to hold up a mic to your mouth
And to slur and to screech and to let it all out
On tape and on film until nothing remained.
We watched you and wished you Godspeed on your way.


About Vince Stephen

You can find information about me on my blog's "About" page.
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