Thursday, 5 May 2016


a sometime barmaid,
a sometime payroll clerk,
a sometime supermarket cashier,
and once something of a hard-faced and cold-eyed beauty,
my grandmother stuffed the unlovely rooms of her underheated boarding house
with friendless flotsam,
with horrible knick-knacks:

a stuffed, glass-eyed crocodile forever frozen in a hostile pose;
a crude wooden rendering of some cannibal's shrunken head;
a  cigarette lighter contained within a china ornament:
a drunk tramp leaning against a lamppost.

"How Dry I Am"
tinkled metallically into the strained silence of the living room
when the thing was lifted,
the cogs and tines of the mechanism inside plinking
and plonking
the notes
of the dipsomaniac's refrain.

she was a working class Tory,
and she was flattered to be spoken to by the local M.P.,
a louche, saturnine rogue.
"he's so polite," she said,
"so charming,"
"so well spoken,"
"such nice teeth."
I didn't say anything
but I must have looked at her the wrong way
because she glared icily through the tobacco smoke seething
from between
her tightly pursed lips.
"ooh, go away you make me sick," she said.

(I've written this before, haven't I?)

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