The Art of Survival

How do I train my heart

in the noble art of survival?

The art of saying goodnight

before it goes too far.

The art of saying goodbye

before it leaves a scar.

The art of leaving where you were

to arrive at where you are.


     Hear nothing for a year

     but can't let his birthday

     pass me by and disappear


     We swap some friendly mails

     And how are you? and How am I?

     - no, nothing in detail


     I wish I could have asked him:

     Have you found someone new?

     I wanted him to answer:

     No, what about you?


     Instead he writes:

     If you're in town

     then maybe look me up.


I'm left without a clue

to how to train my heart

in the noble art

of survival.

The art of saying goodnight

before it goes too far.

The art of saying goodbye

before it leaves a scar.

The art of leaving where you were

to arrive at where you are.


     I see behind his words

     as subtle an encouragement

     as any I have heard.

        

     Within a day or two

     I've organized some work in town

     as if just passing through.

    

     I reckon on an evening

     with dinner at his flat

     but when he writes confirming

     he doesn't mention that,


     instead he says:

     Let's meet for lunch -

     I know a nice café…        

        

I'm left without a clue

to how to train my heart

in the noble art

of survival.

The art of saying goodnight

before it goes too far.

The art of saying goodbye

before it leaves a scar.

The art of leaving where you were

to arrive at where you are.


     I try to read his eyes

     which seem to fill with pleasure

     he does nothing to disguise

        

     Do I misunderstand

     the moment when I think he will

     reach out and touch my hand?


      For when I say the words I thought

     would break the ice again –

     I love you as I did before –

     he looks away in pain


     and whispers low:

     No, don't explain,

     I think I'd better go.


I'm left without a clue

to how to train my heart

in the noble art

of survival.

The art of saying goodnight

before it goes too far.

The art of saying goodbye

before it leaves a scar.

The art of leaving where you were

to arrive at where you are.


     His words fall like a sigh:

     You ought to know by now

     that when it's dead, then let it lie!


     You couldn't comprehend

     how much I would have liked to know

     I had you as a friend.


     But even as he walks away,

     his eyes fixed on the floor,

     I don't think he means 

     I wouldn't see him any more.


     I'll wait until

     my pride has healed

     then ring him up again.

        

I'm left without a clue

to how to train my heart

in the noble art

of survival.

The art of saying goodnight

before it goes too far.

The art of saying goodbye

before it leaves a scar.

The art of leaving where you were

to arrive at where you are.


The art of ringing for a taxi

before they close the bar

                          

The art of leaving the palace

before they shoot the tsar

                          

The art of leaving crowded streets

for a quiet boulevard

                          

The art of leaving the stage

before they unplug your guitar