A selection of poems about growing up in Lagan Village
A Kingdom of Pallets 
Timber stacked high—an edifice to the sky
A labour of love—months in the making
Blood—and sweat-and tears-and tears- and fret
And frayed clothes and nerves and backs ready for breaking.
Like ants we scramble to the summit and review
Our wooden kingdom distended far beneath
And marvel at the effort and endeavour
Basking in the glory of the Empire at our feet.
Proficient in the skills required to build
A structure that won’t stand the test of time
A configuration of lumber, sticks and kindling
A mountain—that is ours alone to climb.
We linger in defiance of the moment
Rebel against the once appointed time
Stall in an instance of non compliance
And postpone the sure and downward climb.
And gaze from a distance when finally grounded
Eyes moist and faces still as figurines
Despondent that our realm should turn to ashes
Downhearted –thinking of our smouldering dreams. 

Doctor Denny’s Parlour
Straight backed chairs-a chaise longue with a family of four
sniffling and burbling and hacking-a chorus of irregular
barks bearing germ laden ejections.  The wee ones eyes’
watery and rheumy-their noses red as beetroot.
An adolescent with bad skin-her head bowed-gawking at the
worn linoleum-her belly extended-tight as a drum
A navvy obscured behind The Whig-his hand swathed in a soiled
and blood encrusted bandage-a splint to guard his thumb.
A bowler hatted gentleman exhales a cloud of pungent fumes 
beneath an antique No Smoking sign-and sighs his discontent
A mother holds her baby tightly to her breast-his muffled sobs
an indication of a malaise or an illness or some minor condition.
Other than the coughs and wheezes and shuffling of feet and
readjusting on the seats an air of despondency hangs around
A parlour filled with unwell infirm and feeble individuals who sport
their ill health in a cloak of misery and depression.
A door creaks-a lacklustre bell pings-a patient shuffles by-
prescription in hand-a whiff-a bitter pong of methylated spirits
A dainty little lady-frail and pinnied-peers around the door
and chirps-birdlike-Mister Murray?-Doctor Denny will see you now.

Friday Night September 1965
tea time
the joy
a dressed fish supper
two battered sausages
and half a chip
between four
before running to Martha Vance’s
for a blue Gillette for my Da
my Ma boils a kettle for his shave
and leaves his best collar out
his suit on the back 
of the scullery door.
On the floor  
cleaning his suede’s with a wee wire brush
in his rush he nearly forgets my pay
a tanner
for a comic and Merry Maid’s from Tilly Martins
he departs
as the society man arrives
riding his NSU Quickly
a stern Jewish man
my Da calls him Clark Gable
on account of a feeble mustache
he demands a half a crown
“to cover arrears” he says
as he rattles his bag of cash
she pays the Maine man too
“a double week” he says
he leaves a cloudy lime and a
Black Cat cola.
I lie in front of the fire
with the Hornet
and the tireless William Wilson
my Ma knits and watches
Emergency Ward Ten
I fall asleep on the cold floor
to the sound of the needles clacking
clacking clacking. 
until my Da
sprockles home from Boyles.
Smicks-skittering just below the surface
Jam jars dangling by our sides
and nets stretched at arm’s length to the farthest bank
trying not to scoop the dreaded frog spawn.
Jam pieces half eaten-the crusts already hard
Sweat begins to break beneath your sloppy Joe
Wellingtons scoring a scarlet welt on your calf
your wringing socks bunched up around your toes.
A dog chasing a butterfly which proves elusive
A swallow dives to scoop a pond skater-
the surface barely rippled such is it’s swiftness
A sudden rush and whisper is all we feel and hear.
Further on down the Loop a tiny cascade
tumbles languidly-crystal clear and summer fresh
and broadens to a foot deep pool where scruffy children
gambol and erase the grime of back street life.
Sluggish hours nonchalantly passed away-
gullible pastimes and amity hold sway in days of
pure simplicity-our only apprehension now is 
trying to hop the bus for the short ride home. 



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