Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The Barmaid

Manchester – in the final days of the smoky old town.
 Listed buildings, monoliths, stand amid the rubble of demolition,
tower-block flats and new estates…

The Barmaid
The bar lights define her, a pale girl
and thin, puppet playing in a booth.
Alert for the long shift she watches
the shadows hunched at the dark tables,
selectors, tacticians, experts reliving irrelevant
games. ‘Do these people ever get real?’
Her mind flees through the window
where, in twilight, rubbish filled sites are gestating.
Her young eyes, unaware, see rain come sweeping
the long empty yards and weeping on derelict firms,
glistening the brick of the devil-dreamed towers
in hell-seeing streets of steel-shuttered shops
where a base-born baby cries in grandmother's arms.

The bar-bum accountant, aged beyond years
with worries of fees, scrapes the price of a pint
from his pocket and shuffles towards her.
She finds herself pulling a pump
in a monolith pub, spared bomb blasting
balls and bulldozing jaws in a mad-architect's
dream of a traffic‑choked scheme – pavements
of vomit and pampered-pets’ shit ochred
by lamps on designer-frame posts.

(Around her, forgotten, the ghosts play the
game‑with‑no‑rules in the dream where the
strikers who ran for the reds were beaten
and blooded by penalties forced by the blues
but dreamed of the goal they would mould
and then leave for descendants to score).

The sages, oblivious in red and blue blindfolds,
watch her sway at the pump. Without knowing
she sees them as losers who funked the one match
that was fixed in their favour – and she
has a baby that cries through the night.

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