Thief: for Terveen

I am a thief

a thief of words.

Watch out for me.

I am never at rest.

My tools

are my ears, my eyes,

my prey

the streets of my city.

I scan for the unwary face,

the frown or smile

that betrays.

I listen into conversations,



I elicit confessions.

I watch for

the unguarded sentence,

the revealing phrase.

I am the one with the notebook

opposite you on the bus;

the one with the slightly intent look

at your side.

Watch out for me.

I am the purloiner of language.

I snatch words

and use them as my own.

I am the poet, the novelist,

the thief of words

* from my second book, 1990. Longman Cheshire

31 thoughts on “Thief: for Terveen

  1. John, I am so honored by this dedication. It really made by day.
    By the way, today’s my birthday. This gift is precious. How did you know? πŸ™‚
    I love how you’ve equated the eavesdropper to a thief. It gives him so much power and control.
    Such a wonderful way of twisting this around.
    When all he’s doing is listening extra hard but with much patience.
    Your words are lovely and paint a twisted picture. πŸ™‚


    • thanks Terveen: of course, I didn’t know but your flash fiction piece inspired me to resurrect this forgotten ode to the predatory persistence of the poet after his/her subject πŸ™‚ and btw, and most importantly, happy birthday πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. thief of more than words, I imagine, in that time. Whatever we take, we play with like putty and put back out something more grand than could ever have been conceived on its own. Perhaps the poet is more of an upcycler? Delightful poem, John. I like the idea of the naughty poet eclipsing the world of snips here and there.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Just absolutely fantastic. I don’t see it as stealing but more as a community service. So many people are unable to tell their stories. Who, better than you to do it for them.
    It also woke another picture in my head. Baldric, from Black Adder, hitting town with a notebook and a cunning plan.

    Liked by 1 person

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