Pocket full of poses

Pocket full of poses

It’s the gap, tarted up as it is –
ribbons, bells on, smooth voice,
eyeball the camera, never a flinch –
between truth and lies.

With nothing firm to stand on
we all fall down.



Walker Brothers

When you sit in a café its life-blood ebbing,
the coffee tastes bitter.

The sun ain’t gonna shine any more.

You feel for the owner, want to buy more than coffee.

The moon ain’t gonna rise in the sky.

I want to hug a circle of love round this man,
large in his small café. Great music, I say,
before I walk away.



Dabbling with care

Washing up is safe
news muted, headlines mulched
splashing soap operas over lipped dishes,
forget journey’s end by drowning
planes of plates, mugs. Scour of steel wool
plastic-bellied whales, washed-out coral
cleansing smears of jam and fat of goose.
there’s plenty to eat but not for all
Patting dry ersatz carnation liquid
belly-up fish in toxic-dump water
on fluted glass and Le Crueset pan.
knee on a neck, raging storms

View from my window as I dabble?
A squirrel bush-whacking the lawn.



When we saw stars

The Square was the shape of a u-bend under a sink,
sunk in mud.

We played in the Square (when not on bombsites,
down the Docks or up a crane) until it was dug out

and stacks of crazy paving arrived and were left
in squat towers until ready to lay.

Days later, we, the ragged-arsed skinny kids
of the council flats, had made crazily-paved ramparts

behind which we played and planned raids on gangs,
till someone, later fingered, reached up over the wall

and let fall a broken biscuit of concrete onto my head.
I saw stars. Perhaps he didn’t know who’d get the hit.

Mum, raised in bucolic Ireland (her dad a farmer with
a dray horse) had been uprooted and here she was,

foreign in south London; her accent melodious.
She mopped my tears, buttered the egg on my head,

and with no hesitation, marched me across the Square,
shape of a heel on a boot, to Johnnie’s flat.

She knocked. My knees knocked,
and the mother answered. Apprised of the situation

she yelled Johnnie get ‘ere. Wordlessly, she threw
back her arm as if in a volley with a champ and

closed with a powerful slap to his face. He must
have seen stars, it was like fission in a bomb.



Joan Byrne







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