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Mister J.P. Hornbill, ninety fast approaching,

reading glasses unreliable as foglamps blinking,

has taken to watching movies from some wondrously

benevolent provider of purloined celluloid, streaming

down to his rusting yet still functioning computer


And like the zipped-up overcoated teenage dreamer

he never has relinquished, chooses Romance as his

favorite genre and watches, eyes misting up his specs,

how in script after metropolitan script, the camera focuses

on yet another pair of star-crossed strangers


Young and good looking, bumping unexpectedly, yet

also quite predictably, into each other, locking eyes

for a short magnetic moment, exchanging a word or two

on this or that, and having kindled in us a spark


That Mister J.P. Hornbill (like hundreds of other

lonely viewers) hopes, fondly imagines, nay is certain,

will within the next two hours become a flame, consuming

time and space, surviving improbable adventures,

partings and re-meetings, losses, tragedies and with

a quite implausible belief in destiny, burn on to help them


find each other once more in scene after scene then part

again, until the final minutes and that inevitable, arms around

each other, lips and tongues entwined, ecstatic moment,

after which the actors’ names and all the other collaborators

in this great pretense appear in black and white across the screen


Mister J.P. Hornbill takes off his glasses, wipes his eyes,

prepares for bed. Somewhere, in a dream perhaps, he knows

he’ll meet her. Maybe she’s not far away now, closing her

computer, brushing her teeth, filling her hot water bottle.

Possibly they’ll meet soon he thinks, sit in the back row

munching popcorn look at each other sideways, smile

and exchange a word or two, as strangers sometimes do

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© Johnmichael Simon



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