Poetry

Poems by Richard, Part 5

The final batch…for now

1963

The snow lasted that year
Deep into Spring.
The playground toilets
Froze, school became
Optional for those
Who could stay at home
Or had the guts to bunk off.

Those of us with working
Mums sat in classrooms
In our coats and gloves
Barely able to write
While a giant circular
Radiator seemed to heat
Only itself
And the unfamiliar teacher
Broke his chalk on the
Blackboard like a piece of ice.

Everybody struggled.
The milk left in the hatch
Froze solid, the cat
Hardly ventured out
We went to bed early
To avoid using too much
Coal. The snow grew
Grey pockmarked with dirt
Scabbed brown
On the roads
Like old frozen wounds.

We might have fallen
Out of love with winter
But for the journeys
With toboggans through parks
Grown wild with ice and drifts
And the tracks of dogs
And hares and strange
White birds
And sledging down hills
On sheets of brown cardboard
As dusk crept
Out of the woods
And alleyways
And the orange street lamps
Turned the iced-up pavements
A smattered gold…

 

Class Traitor

 I was a Costa man
A Tesco man
An old Mondeo man
Bristling
With tribal truculence
Among the white tattooed
Barristas
Old guys shouting
For their buttered toast
Old girls with lizard skin
And with wiry perms
Tough as nails
As they knock back
Espressos
And menace
All comers
With their beady gaze.

Now. Goddammit,
I’m a Waitrose man
With my white Waitrose
Mug of frothy cappuccino
And nice bourgeois girls
Taking your order
In their grey Waitrose aprons
Crisp white shirts
And grey caps. Here
The old dudes wear
Wedding rings and glasses
And tasteful winter
Jackets, conversation
Is conducted with genteel
Decorum, the ladies wear
Silk scarves and pearls
And bring toasted tea cakes
For their hubs.

I want to stand up
On my table, shake my fist
And shout “This is not real!”
But all I do is suck down
The froth from the bottom
Of my mug, write angry poems
And shuffle off to fire up
The Merc for the short drive
Home.

 

Final Colours

What colour ends?
As you lie curled foetally
Like the shadow
Of a babe in the womb

Does your dream world
Change to a sheer arctic
Blue like a cloudless
Polar night illumined
By shoals of stars?

Or, as you start
To breathe in stumbling
Semi quavers interspersed
With breathless stops
Does the inner view
Turn red as your blood
Streams around the whorls
Of your brain one last

Time? Or is there just
A shrinking point
Of pure white light
Like a laser beam pointed

From further and further
Away? You see I’d rather like
To know what signifies
The end.

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