MCMXIV, by Phillip Larkin

MCMXIV, by Phillip Larkin

Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park,
The crowns of hats, the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August Bank Holiday lark;

And the shut shops, the bleached
Established names on the sunblinds,
The farthings and sovereigns,
And dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens,
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist, and the pubs
Wide open all day;

And the countryside not caring:
The place-names all hazed over
With flowering grasses, and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheat’s restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses,
The dust behind limousines;

Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word – the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages,
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.

ADVICE TO A SON…Hemingway

ADVICE TO A SON  by Ernest Hemingway

Never trust a white man,
Never kill a Jew,
Never sign a contract,
Never rent a pew.
Don’t enlist in armies;
Nor marry many wives;
Never write for magazines;
Never scratch your hives.
Always put paper on the seat,
Don’t believe in wars,
Keep yourself both clean and neat,
Never marry whores.
Never pay a blackmailer,
Never go to law,
Never trust a publisher,
Or you’ll sleep on straw.
All your friends will leave you
All your friends will die
So lead a clean and wholesome life
And join them in the sky.

WORKING FOR THE SUBBY

 

The study of a man from the cradle to the grave. Forced to go on the run from his Comeragh hill farm at an early age, Johnjo washes up in Lincolnshire in war-time England. Working on farms, and often finding himself treated worse than the prisoners-of-war, he goes on the run again. And so begins a life-long association with ‘the lump’ – the dark underbelly of the construction industry. From building motorways and living in camps you ‘wouldn’t keep a decent dog in’, we eventually find him working in London for a ‘subby’ called Bannaher – not having been home to Ireland for more than thirty years. Disillusioned and bitter at having been ground down by the harshness of his life, he, nevertheless, hangs on to a few sparks of defiance. The final straw comes when he sees his friend (lover?) buried alive in the trench they are working in, and he embarks on a rebellious ‘last hurrah’.

MY CAR NOW TALKS TO ME.

MY CAR NOW TALKS TO ME
Hello
Goodbye
Raising the lights like a stage curtain
Playing little movies
Serenading me with melodies
The welcome – farewell experience
They call it
“An emotionally resonant experience”
And that digital note of appreciation
“Thank you for driving a hybrid”
As if it was something…well
Unconnected with this thing on four wheels.
And those door handles
Illuminating when they sense my presence
The needles on the instruments
Snapping to attention as I open the door
There’s a welcoming theme
Part Hollywood soundtrack
Part plane swoosh
And that puddle lamp!
A welcome mat of light.
My car is a robot I think
With a personality not just in its body
But also in its behaviour.
“How can I help you?”
It asks now
As I prepare for take-off.
I really feel like telling it
To shut the fuck up
But I don’t want to hurt its feelings.

 

 

 

AN ULSTER UNIONIST WALKS THE STREETS OF LONDON by Tom Paulin

An Ulster Unionist Walks the Streets of London, by Tom Paulin

All that Friday
there was no flag –
no Union Jack
no tricolour –
on the governor’s mansion.

I waited outside the gate-lodge,
waited like a dog
in my own province
till a policeman brought me
a signed paper.

Was I meant to beg
and be grateful?
I sat on the breakfast-shuttle and I called –
I called out loud –
to the three Hebrew children
for I know at this time
there is neither prince, prophet, nor leader  –
there is no power
we can call our own.
I grabbed a fast black –
I caught a taxi –
to Kentish Town,
then walked the streets
like a half-foreigner
among the London Irish.
What does it feel like?
I wanted to ask them –
what does it feel like
to be a child of that nation?
But I went underground
to the Strangers’ House –

We vouch, they swore,
We deem, they cried,
till I said, ’Out…
I may go out that door
and walk the streets
searching my own people.’

 

I WONDER WHAT THEY WILL SAY WHEN I AM GONE

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I WONDER WHAT THEY WILL SAY WHEN I AM GONE.

I wonder what they will say of me when I am gone?

It was him that penned those lines, you know

The ones about choking the chicken.

Ah, poor Katie Doyle never lived that one down!

And the lies he told in that Altar Boy book he wrote

Just as well his poor mother wasn’t still around…

 

And how that Mean Fiddler fella was best man at his wedding

Wearing a suit borrowed from his brother-in-law

 

Then there was that tale about the Kray Twins

How he walked and smoked with them

On remand in Wormwood Scrubs if you don’t mind!

How they didn’t seem nearly as bad as they were painted

In fact he almost said they were kind!

 

I wonder what they will say of me when I am gone?

Perhaps they will say nothing