Kings, Castles, Rascals
This stone bridge was once a castle.
From here we rained down missiles;
or as jeering warriors stormed
full pelt up the grass bank, our flailing
branches ready to knock the crowns
right off each others’ cocky blocks.
How long ago your fighting spirits died.
No laughter or battle cries from you today:
just the cosy life far away from campaigns raged
across schoolyards, fields, then towns and pubs. Dutifully
glued to whatever trite shite is watched by wife
or sprog, you lie on fat sofas – the glorious dead.
Now the parapet barely reaches my knees
and the river a much less formidable moat
than I’d have sworn; though the Gele’s tears
still pour over the weir, sad to lose identity
in the vast, salt Irish sea. And me?
I haunt our stomping grounds, my shadow striding
out before me: a giant ghost, coat flapping in the wind.
And the water before the weir forever lapping at the child.
Teaching Jesus to Dance
It’s hard, you said, when the Devil’s on your back;
you climb up his gnarled sequioa spine
vertebrae by vertebrae, your glass
steady; do not spill a drop. Lupine
being the order of this and every night,
sink your teeth into that toughest cut
of meat: the neck. He’ll writhe, so grasp your pint,
employ your weight till the bastard breaks; enough
of this should see his hooves are shorn, have bled.
Once his tail’s been dragged out the dance hall door,
it’s time we tucked the moon into its bed
and howl in another unexpected dawn.
And let’s not dwell upon the Devil’s faults,
tonight we’ve a date with him for another waltz.
Whilst propping up my favourite bar,
swilling Guinness by the jar
and eyeing the svelte, blonde-haired Ishtar
who works the afternoons,
I think about my life, my lot,
and everything I haven’t got –
right down to that proverbial pot
to piss in – quite jejune
of me to dwell upon all that
when there could be flirtatious chat
with that most sexual acrobat
who pours another pint.
So as the Lethe’s liquid settles
I try to summon all my mettle,
hide my Hyde, display my Jekyll,
and ask her if she might.
Before I start I’m forced to halt,
an agèd customer at fault
enquiring after single malt,
“Ten year old Macallan?”
As Ishtar pours his single dram
I throw my toys out of my pram
and cast him with the worst of Man;
Saddam, Hitler, Stalin.
He takes the barstool to my left
so any chance of casual sex
now victim to his measly theft,
I don’t feel quite the Christian.
“You don’t look very full of cheer
for one who has a pint of beer,”
he says. “D’you want to bend my ear?
‘Cos if you do I’m listening.”
It’s not his ear I’d like to bend;
his spine I’d most like to offend,
or maybe let my brow descend
abruptly on his beak.
I’m silent, trying to decide
on GBH or homicide,
then single malt with cyanide
or murder more unique.
“Daytime drinking’s for the old,
or those who’ve gladly pawned their souls,
or those who thought they broke the mould,
but if you have your troubles
sit with me an hour or two,
don’t speak if you do not wish to.
Perhaps you’d like a whisky too?”
“Ishtar, make them doubles.”
As soon as they have been drunk down
he gestures for another round.
I think, “This guy’s a fucking clown,
but who cares if he’s buying?”
The old man grins, he’s read my mind,
ironically I’m less inclined
to nut his nose or snap his spine,
be party to his dying.
“I’ll get these,” I say in haste,
donning my best poker-face
like buying rounds is commonplace
in the George and Dragon.
“You’ll thank me when the bottle’s done,
for I was your age once, my son.
But now I’m drained, all best songs sung,
like you I dream of shagging.”
“No,” I say. “I’m taking stock
of all I have and haven’t got,
is that some kind of culture shock?
Keep quiet and drink your scotch.”
This grey-haired goblin smirks, “Your lust’s
as plain as tattooed on her bust,
and life being short I think you must
tell her you’ve the hots.”
I drink, admiring Ishtar’s curves,
trying not to look the perv,
convinced at last I’ve found the nerve
to ask if she turns tricks.
Then suddenly, at lightning speed,
the apple of my lust’s relieved
by troll-in-residence (named Niamh)
and so ends Ishtar’s shift.
“Follow her into the street
and bare your want down at her feet,
be brash about it not discreet,”
commands my agèd friend.
But I enjoy his company,
his charm and style and bonhomie.
And what’s lost love to him or me?
I offer “Same again?”
Brett Evans lives, writes and drinks in his native north Wales. His poetry has featured in various UK journals and online ezines, and his debut pamphlet, The Devil’s Tattoo, is forthcoming from Indigo Dreams Publishing in 2015. Brett is co-founder and co-editor of Prole. http://www.prolebooks.co.uk/