The Abandoned Homes

The lawns are untidy, leaf-littered,

bits of toys and garden tools scattered

all around. The ground is weedy, seeds

of unwanted things still hanging, in need

of attention, a thing they cannot find.

Windows made opaque by curtains or blinds,

or sometimes just dirty sheets nailed

up to hide the fact that they’ve failed

to cover their secrets and lies, their things to hide

from the careless world that waits outside.

These are the homes of the never-had, the ones

whose dreams have gone bad and beliefs are long gone,

whose hopes were abandoned at the school gates,

where the miseducation that they got from the state

gave them just enough learning to understand why

they would never amount to a thing, so they try

to live in a way that will give them some fun,

or at least in a way that will leave them quite numb

to opinions of others. They don’t even care now,

they see all these rich cows,

the ones who had chances

the ones without debt, the ones with finances,

they see them and their homes with their neat

little gardens and fancy nice cars and sweet

little children and they look in the mirror

and they sit back and wonder

‘how on earth did we get here,

just how did we get here?’

These are the homes of the abandoned.

I am not one of them.

I am not.

I Love A Pub

I love a pub. It feels

Homely to me, a place

Of comfort and ease. It

Pleases me, the hubbub

And the chunter and the

Banter and, sometimes,

The chunder.

Well, not so much the chunder.

I love the open heart

Of it, being part of it, being

Where the life is, the laughs

And all the funny biz

That happens all around

The place when you’re

Sitting there with

Friends,

Talking shit,

Acting up a bit,

Going for the craic.

I’m happy here,

Just drinking beer, though

I learned a sad truth lately.

I can’t do it, can’t handle it,

Unless the drink is gravy.

School Run Mums

They stand there at the gates, the thin mums,

the fat mums, the dad mums, the bad mums, chatting

about anything and nothing, comparing each

one with another, their child with hers, her clothes

with yours. When an outsider comes, a latecomer,

they smile. They are pleased. The latecomer is

different.

They can all look down on her and her

late-making child and speak

the evil words that bind them when

the latecomer cannot hear.

The children are herded, off-loaded, discarded, and the

mothers turn for home. Some light up, some vape, some

scurry forward, aiming their weaponised prams

at the undefended legs of strangers,

who dare not speak against a poor, harassed,

busy mother.

They head for home, to the cleaning and

cooking, the preening and preparing, the affairs,

the exercise and improvement of themselves,

or to nothing at all, not even hate.

They will return, later, to collect the child,

from the school gates where they themselves,

all those years ago,

abandoned hope

and entered.

Girl On The Bus

In the middle of a shabby

council estate, a girl gets on the bus.

She is wrong.

Something about her is wrong.

She is in the wrong place. She is in the wrong

time. She wears clothes from the forties,

fifties maybe.

She is impeccable.

This is a word I never use but

it suits her, it fits her

as well as her clothes. She wears big, round

spectacles, just the right size for her roseapple

face. Blonde hair curls out from beneath a

hat, I don’t know the style name, it is plain,

like something a flapper would wear. Her jacket,

lincoln green, is cut just right, flared, resting on

her hips. Her skirt, a plaid material, faint check,

moulds to her figure. Incongruous, she wears

beatbox headphones, clamped over the hat.

She mounts the bus from a shitty street,

where I have seen shitty people do

shitty things to other people.

How did she make herself this way,

here, in this place?

She sits behind me and I

can’t look. Thinking about her, I drift off

and almost miss her when she gets up

and leaves the bus a few stops later.

I know I will never

see her again. I will never be able

to say to her,

“You are magnificent.”