All Those Parties
Someone trod smoky bacon crisps
and chocolate cake into the pink nylon carpet
and someone helped themselves
to all the bottles in her father’s booze cupboard,
drained them dry and lurched out
into the garden for a piss, threw empties
all over the lawn and into the pond
where the gnomes were poised for fishing.
And someone went upstairs
with someone else’s girlfriend
and wrestled with her
all over the gold parental candlewick,
but the boyfriend crashed through the door
and thumped the kid and thumped him again
till his nose bloodied the polycotton easycare sheets
and the girl screamed and ran downstairs
in daisy-patterned knickers and a flood of tears.
And close to midnight someone said ‘Who’s that?’
and the party girl’s parents marched in,
her mother speechless, her father barking,
‘God in heaven, what’s been happening here?!’
Or so someone told me later.
I was stretched out on the chintz three-seater,
for the first time
with that month’s crush,
the happiest girl alive
till the door flew wide,
all the lights in the room glared down
and A Groovy Kind of Love
scraped to a halt.
When We Were Manx
Manx meant we had sea in our veins,
pulsed with the blood of Vikings and Celts.
The sea fed us: kippers and cod as common as cake.
Our songs were of wrecked ships, our stories
of ghosts in the castle, fairies under the bridge.
In our throats, salt, mountain air, the hit
of burnt rubber and petrol fumes
flooding from motor bikes’ revving throttles.
In our teens, we took holiday work
in the rock factory. The stuff emerged first
in a long pliable strip of flamingo.
We aproned up and rolled it forwards
and back. Tourists traipsed in to watch,
glad to be out of the rain. We cut
the rock in regular lengths,
and after it hardened, packed it away
in a metal box, heaved it along
to the store-room, fending off Peter,
the sleazy storeman. The older girls
were mainly comeovers, from across,
there for the summer, then gone.
Fairy light towns threaded horizons,
called us away to the scattered places
where most of us live now.
The rock was such sweet, sticky stuff.
A three legs of man, like a vein
or a core, ran right through (still does)
the bite white centre,
from left to right, bottom to top.
The Pavement Shrine
I’ve watched it grow a life for months.
First, the flowers and one short note
identifying Jamie as the man who died.
It’s bred an armchair now. A football
and a paper lantern blossom in the tree.
Three books of photos, open.
Two motorcycle helmets offered up,
too late for Jamie, sit gravely on the triangle
of roadside grass where the biker hit a car.
A growing home – for whom? What is it for?
To call back Jamie from the dead? As if
a note, a football, might be all it took.
Or to reassure the living how the dead
live on? Chalked on the pavement’s blackboard
a message reads, See ya mate, Take care.
Chrissy Banks lives in Exeter. She runs a roving Poetry Reading group in Devon and Somerset and occasional Reflective Writing Days. Her last collection was Days of Fire and Flood. More recently, her work has featured in Agenda,the Journal, Antiphon, the Lake, the Rialto, The North and Ink, Sweat and Tears. www.chrissybankspoetry.com