You are never far away –
skulking in the shadows
like a sly, malignant ghost.

You dog my path
or hang around my neck
waiting to drag me down.

I can rely on you
to dull my brain, to slow my step,
to make each puny choice or act
a mountain-climbing effort,
till, powerless to wish or hope,
I crumple on the ground,
your hand still on my shoulder,

the staunch companion I never sought,
whose ‘friendship’ offers me
no more than living death.

John Barclay


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