John Rickell

(I November 1931 / York)

Building site Walsall UK


Hoardings shouting at the street,
those in buses reading as they pass
of perfume, razor blades and Guinness,
selling space and advertising
keeping secret from the public
the future of their city,
JCBs moving piles of earth
to mold a future better than the past,
where once workers toiled,
houses cheek-by-jowl, back allies,
terrace rows and corner shop,
midst laughter, spinning tops and shawls
smutted wash lines wall to wall.
Evening pubs with glittering mirrors
nicotine ceiling and sawdust floors,
counters lined with glasses,
as hooters sound the end of day,
on the way to home, to crowded streets,
seagulls on the cliffs at Flambro'
(how did they know which nest?) .
wife and kids around the table,
scrubbed, white, no cloth hiding knots,
armchair for Dad, stools for the kids,
chair, beside the sink, for Mam.
Pigeons to feed and whippets,
shoes to sole and wood to chop,
fishing canals for roach and pike,
barges low with coal and pots from Stoke.
Smells of tanning, thumping hammers,
freight trains through the night,
flashing furnace fires, bed
by ten and up at six.
Blake's 'Jerusalem' on a school piano.

Submitted: Wednesday, February 19, 2014

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