Christmas poem #3

MANTRA

The number 213 and the redness of its rear
are all I see of the disappearing bus, before
another one slips the ropes of the hill,
heaving with posh kids from a different school,
with stripier blazers and caps. I find half a seat
upstairs, right at the back in the smokiest part,
next to a bloke whose grumbling guts doo-wop
like one-hit wonders on Top of the Pops.

I catch a glimpse through a steamed-up window—
where someone’s finger-drawn a cock and arrow—
of the just-mown triangle of Plough Green
and its tadpoled pond in which the woman
who delivered meals-on-wheels with my mum
drowned herself one Christmas Day. Then we come
to the bridge with its famous mantra daubed
high in white, reeking of the grown-ups’ world:

SEXY WOMAN I LOVE YOU MANHOOD.

from The Evening Entertainment, 2017.

 

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