Sunday, 31 January 2021

3 Across (cryptic)


I have paper

weighted down by coffee cup

as autumn winds

seem intent on catching it, lifting it,

giving it the gift of flight. 

I am stuck on 3 across

(and will marvel at its genius

when it finally falls-into-place)

and then I see him (all screwed up)


and wonder what demons he does battle with.


A wasp alights to feed on sugar

blown by breeze to strew the table,

I am not frightened of it, of its sting –

my fears lay elsewhere (lay with him).

Will he leave or not?

My fear is that he might stay…

(I am still stuck on 3 across.)


(I marvel at it (the wasp) – tiny, perfect,

life compact in black and yellow skin.)


He unsettles me,

something I-cannot-quite-put-my-finger-on.

Is angst communicable ‘cross café tables?

He lights a cigarette,

takes one puff of it

then snaps it, throws it to the ground.

With anguished moan he lights another

and sucks at it, sucks at it as if there is no



He has that leg thing,

right leg jerks up and down

causing chair to rattle.

He groans as he wraps head in hands.

A backfiring car elicits

startled wide-eyed response,

he panics, half screams,

slams fists down heavy,

shattering plate and peace.


He sees them (and me) voyeuring,

shouts “What the f**ck you looking at?”

stands, upturns chair and table

and with one loud “F**K YOU!

storms off into his private hell.


(I am still stuck on 3 across.)


Anna :o]


Having (hopefully) temporary writers block (again), I have dredged up an oldie and tweaked it a little.

This is a true story.  I worked nights for years and after my final shift, I would meet my friend most Wednesday mornings for breakfast and then go shopping, even if mostly window shopping and then often go to another café for a mid-day meal.

The words are an account of what I viewed whilst sitting at a pavement table, while doing a cryptic crossword as I awaited the arrival of my friend.  I love cryptic crosswords.  If memory serves me well, I wasn’t stuck on 3 across, but whichever it was, it didn’t have the right ring to it, so 3 across it became.

Shared with the good folk at PSU Writers' Pantry # 55, hosted by the lovely Rommy, cheers Rommy!

Image:  Courtesy of Flickr "Do we have enough clothes?? Is our house safe?? Is it difficult to change diapers?? Will I ever sleep the next 18 years???" by zetson is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


C. Sandlin said...

This puts me right in the moment and the unease of it. Very much missing writing out in the world. :)

Debi Swim said...

A slice of real life. You've captured it brilliantly

rallentanda said...

There seems to be more of these unfortunate types about since the pandemic.Dangerous.

indybev said...

You've taken an ordinary happenstance and turned it into an amusing poem. I loved every bit of it!

Rommy said...

There is life outside the neat little boxes we can get so caught up in, and it can be so very hard to know what to make of it when it confronts us directly. But fear, rage, and frustration are all part of the human experience.

Helen said...

Excellent recounting of something unsettling ... you are a talented writer, in spite of your less than stellar crossword puzzle skill.

Magaly Guerrero said...

This is some serious people watching. I really like the clarity of the details. You put us right there with you.

Marja said...

Wow I loved this You captured a moment in life excellently Love how you move on at the end (I am still stuck on 3 across)

robkistner said...

This was light, involving, and warm.

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

You drew me right into the scene and your reactions, at the same time conveying the depth of his disturbance. Very sad.

ADDY said...

I feel as if I were there, just behind your right shoulder, observing it all with you. very tense. Hope you finally got 3 across!

Jenny Woolf said...

I am always so sorry for people who are living in that kind of personal hell. YOur poems are always good and this one conveyed a real feeling of how it is to be sitting in a public place with someone who acts strangely. You try to keep on acting normal and minding your own business, but...

dsnake1 said...

you have captured a moment of life so well, with much detail. with so much happening, it's really hard to focus on '3 across'. :)

Hazel said...

Very keen observation. The emotions in your words are almost tangible. I enjoyed this!

Kim M. Russell said...

I had a hunch your poem was based on reality, Anna, which you have expanded on so eloquently and conveyed so vividly I can see the scene in my mind’s eye: the paper weighted down by coffee cup and lifted by the wind, the wasp on the sugar. I often get stuck on a clue in the crossword, which I do on Saturdays as that’s the only day we get a paper – can’t afford The Times every day. I’m intrigued by ‘him’, the nervous man in the café. No wonder you were still stuck on 3 across!

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Priscilla King said...

I've had lunch dates with people like that. was good to know before I worked with them or went out with them.