DJ rocks a reggae beat,
dull after dark. In the day, sticky underfoot,
the stench of old ale, cider, and smoke.
Some strain of skunk or spunk; sweet, sour and salty
My mop sheaths the stench for a time in pine
To be drowned later under a swell of noxious perfume.
Pints pour and scores are totted and marked
Darts thrown, targets hooked,
unknown, unnamed, ultimately forgotten.
Sacred rituals, breathy smiles,
Intensify to climax in sordid shags out back
Out of sight between a pallet of empty bottles
and the back wall of the gents
snatched minutes of abandon, droplets of pleasure
fleeting unions that leave cement burns and stubble rash
smudges on a white-washed denim skirt.
Flushed, he finishes first. Blush.
Memories, like fetid burps, turn the stomach
A different life you’d relive in a flash
if it was For One Night Only.
As the night rocks on
A man lays down in a doorway
across the road.
Listening to cackles and laughs,
roars and backslaps, bad sopranos,
salaried winos with beds to go to. Clean sheets.
He pulls his sleeping bag over his old bones
burrows down, pulls the hood over his head
to retain the remains of the summer heat
that slowly ebbs and sinks with the late evening sun.
In his bulbous red nose,
the lingering smell of noontime rooftop, melting tar;
hot, boiled exhaust fumes, tube tunnel tornados
evaporated piss sprayed there last night
after a Great Night Out Lads.
He wasn’t there last night, officer
I would’ve seen him I'm sure
His own stink, meshed with the fabric of a manky Tshirt
Under the beer soaked fibres of a threadbare jumper
Worn rain or shine, stained in vomit and wine.
A woman had stooped down, outside the Roundhouse,
holding her breath, proffered a hand
hot coffee and an egg sandwich
feeling righteous and proud of herself,
But who the fuck likes egg fucking sandwiches.
He begged a burger from a spotty teen,
Spilled the coins from his cup for a Thunderbird
At the Nine-Eleven.
Draining the last dregs, he chases it up with
a girly cocktail, retrieved from a ledge outside the pub.
Stomach tended, he squeezes his eyes shut
To sleep a dread slumber.
He stays there all weekend, in the spot where he lay,
in a side-street doorway, rarely used, often pissed in
while we sunbathed, baring our bums to the hot London sun
on the tar covered roof of the Pub overlooking his grave.
Monday morning, as I peer through a first floor window,
I watch as paramedics arrive, no lights shining, no siren bleating.
I see his dead face, as they zip him up, etched with so much life
Greyed and blackened, as if he was already in hell.