Thursday, October 04, 2012

For National Poetry Day



Liverpool, 1944-1968

Candle-nosed children
(catarrh's common around here)
play on the bomb sites
under towers hung with washing.

Ships' voices
bellow above the city noises,
lonely, no longer in convoys,
like sirens

calling Granddad
back to the sea.
He sailed over torpedoes
but never told tales.

A tart with a complexion
like lunar craters
bought tea in Lewis's cafeteria,
saying, "Thanks luv."

People stepped over
a drunk outside the Adelphi.
He could be dead
but no one bothers.

Mrs O'Malley, scrubbing steps,
says, "Holymarymotherogod"
when a boy stepped in the suds.
He said, "Cherwa?"

I caught the bus home
smelling of wet clothes
and someone's chips,
and Woodbines.

Liverpool revisited, 1970s

Arthur Dooley
(folk hero of the '60s,
welder turned sculptor,
champion of old architecture,
piss on the bureaucrats!)
said, "Gerrof!", but they
took great chunks out,
like a mad dentist,
filling in with flyovers and downunders.
Concrete's handy stuff.


I used to go through this area on the bus, on my way into the city. Arthur Dooley tried to save some of the old architecture nearer town, much of it with original wrought iron decoration.

I was a student at Liverpool College of Art in the 1960s, living at home in the suburbs and working in Lewis's department store on Saturdays.  
I knew Arthur Dooley when we were both CND members, going on demonstrations with lots of other people. He was a real Scouser.
My grandfather, who lived with us until he died, had been a steward on the White Star Line. He  never adjusted to life ashore when he retired. He used to go and watch the ships whenever he could, sitting in the gardens along the river-front at Waterloo.

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