Ready, prepared, weapons in place,
the fresh stench of aftershave fills the air,
a clean shirt buttoned,
wallet checked, protection an annoyance.
On the bus, eyes everywhere,
bodies chat and vodka laughs,
the vehicle vibrates week long sexual energy,
the weekend hunt is on.
She with the warpaint camouflage,
ready with her lures,
lurid nails on glowing screen,
there in 10, get the drinks in.
Pools of light illuminate busy tables,
empty glasses to catch vapid souls.
You have to shout at the bar staff over indie classics,
to order your next round of avoidance.
People congregate, merge and flock,
friends and colleagues bellowing at shared jokes,
while the hunters quietly circle,
waiting for the herd to break, weakness to reveal.
Across the room a separate herd moves,
pristine feathers shine on Instagram,
gaudy money reflected, tasteless bling,
they are our screaming false gods.
Avoid the vain, they expect to be hunted,
Target the approval seekers,
the ones with the quiet laugh,
the scanning eyes, desperate to be seen.
Elsewhere lipstick is slowly applied
and she sees a reaction,
eyes met and the hunter moves,
her prey static, silent in headlights.
Eyes roaming over downed drinks,
watching for a split in the pack.
The hunters are patient,
and praised in this ritual.
Chat up lines miss at first,
circling to land later in addled ears.
A smile, a touch, not my place, yours,
agreement willingly coaxed, doused in want.
Later they wake in quiet places,
and fake their way home.
All they have are empty sofas and the ritual ends,
still alone, still empty, unfed and unloved.