match day

a young man approached the wall
opposite my window
aha I thought 
something is about to happen 
the vibes are right 
he wore a red football scarf 
tied around his wrist
carried a wooden rattle
in one hand
a flyspray – a flyspray?
in the other
far out! says I
this lad is a dada-ist 
at least a revolutionary
then he pointed his flyspray 
at the brickwork
and began to paint
to paint! too much!
a pavement Picasso yet
a real live free spirit
the Beat Generation lives!
but there was more to come
as he bent to his masterpiece
three youths in blue and white scarves
entered the street
crying in chorus
Shed Boys rule
Stretford End wankers
and proceeded 
to lay about our hero 
with bottles and with boots
wow – street theatre yet
I applauded happily
the blood looked quite real

at the end of the first act
the police arrived
to close the show
the artist censored again
I shouted across the street
the Arts Council shall hear of this
which way to the book-burning
I waited ’til they’d gone of course
it’s my duty as a poet
to remain at liberty
after the last ambulance had left
I ventured forth
to view his deathless creation
oh joy what a revelation
no painter he
no struggling thespian
but a poet – a poet!
there on the wall
wrought in glitter-gold aerosol spray
was his passionate verse
shining out from the broken bottles 
and spilled blood 
like some heavenly message
from above
I trembled as I read
his magic words
MAN  UNITED
it quite made my day
I can tell you

 

1971
Jeff Cloves


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