Bitten by the rainy city

Dancing in the dark she feels
the strings of her heart

          We were animals/seduced by urban nitrate

He catches his reflection in the puddles on Oxford Road. Easier to look down. He used to daydream. Used to look back too. Back to years when Da took a leave from absence and they learnt to love those pigeons. Learnt so much that just like Da he flew South. To find himself.

          Desperately seeking further education/ red brick
          factory skylines/ home comforts and a phone line
          to mother/ three hundred long miles

Couldn’t keep the McJob. Couldn’t keep his mouth shut. Couldn’t even keep a squat in Hulme. Got scooped up by the local dogcatchers. Groomed. Rehomed. Dignity blown away in a storm of powder nights. Kick a man while he’s down, why don’t you. He rubs the recent bruising, strategic and under his ribs. He’s been a bad boy.

alive with the strobes on the ceiling

          only really rising as dusk falls/ her halogen
          shines on in our flawless skin/ hypnotized

For the punters only. He’s been told a punch of times. But what do they expect. Standing on the edge, of pavements, the hustle, from late till the end of the night. He’s not a bloody automaton. Got to rub something on the gums. Keep him able to sell anything gift wrapped in a Rizla. Have some fun kids. Look where it got me.

          Called to the boom and the jungle/ shoe gazing
          the jumping off point/ unpackaged
          this is living/ forget about/ everything

alive with this beautiful feeling

Wondering if the manager of The Firkin will let him sink a dram. An exchange for stacking empties. A little pot wash too. His lilt and the tall tales remind the old man of Derry, his own. He needs a little fire on this Baltic night of frosty eyes and pork pie legs. He thinks about the lasses on the game huddled under the bridges on Whitworth Street West. Wannabe mothers the lot of them, always a kind word for the lost boys like him.

the first to unbottle this genie

          A warehouse flirtation/ rough round the edges
          until dawn/ we become book-ends
          wear badges/with honour

He steers well clear. Always want something, women. Nearly at the nightclub door, he scours the line for the half-cut in need of a pick-yer-up or a bright light. Pockets notes, palms punters off with wraps of dash and be happy. Keeps a couple. Even the undead need to kick-back with a pipe and pretend they’re living.

violets and auroral green
these northern dreams


Couple at the bus shelter

Holding her shoulder

white knuckle tight

he’s her knight

in High Street clothing

she’s his queen

his bleeding heart

pushing the stroller

playing her part

her eyes dark

exhausted from

the ding of the bell


Round one


The slam of the door

as toddler screams

they’re in the ring

he’s in her face

his beer breath roar

its Queensbury rules


Oh no it’s not

their gloves come off

then its playground

jeers and fisticuffs

and the ding of the bell


Round two


She’s down on her knees

poor scrubber mopping up

the morning after

their post pub

late night last orders

break-up vows

behind closed doors


Yes when he’s sure

she knows who’s boss

she’s hit rock-bottom

she’s lost her spark

yes when she’s just

a little bit smaller

than the day before


The whistle blows

final score 1 – nil

then the ding of the bell


Round three


They’re making up

with baked goods

and pack ups

with dinner dates

wrapped in love

and daddy’s home

every night

let’s celebrate with

happy hearts and

roses round the

cottage door

even though

they both know

there’s more in store


There’s tears in

her eyes as they

sit too close

clinging together

on the blue plastic bench

in this bus shelter

waiting for

the ding of the bell


Round four