One For The Road
Saturday, 9 December 2017 at 18:58
Smith/Doorstop brought out an anthology of poems about pubs a month or two back One for the Road, edited by Helen Mort and Stuart Maconie. The shortest poem in it, a haiku about a Hull pub, was mine. Here it is, below. I did a little reading for the launch at the Bridlington Literature Festival. Reading a haiku, even with a title of almost as many syllables, doesn't take very long, so I filled out my reading with a little section from Satyr (Shoestring 2017) ,"Drilling the Zinc". Here, also is another take on Hull pubs, with Philip Larkin sitting in.
Ex-Trawlerman’s Beermat Haiku at The Whalebone, Hull
Wine-dark sea? Think beer:
let fish-finings load your pint
with light. Is that clear?
Drilling the Zinc
Ingerland: foreskin of a Friday night.
DJ, eyes worn by distance, smoke,
eavesdrops the future down the bone,
thumbs the next track into the stripper’s zip,
wastes imported vinyl on the drongos of this Dead Zone.
Thud and blunder from the back-room.
Click of a black rolls the last pony into the pocket.
You trouser what you can of the chink,
stand your wingman a chaser, and one for the bludger,
stuff a brown lizzie in the burly-gurlie’s biscuit.
Out into the bladdered, the Filth with their hoolivan,
faces like bulldogs licking piss off a nettle.
Everyone, everywhere’s angstin or bustin for knuckle.
And it’s a jive life. Jive life. Jive life.
Outside in bum-fuck Egypt, garyboys burn rubber,
gunning kevved-up GTs twerking twocked Zondas.
You go down manors icky with gum and spilt claret,
rug like a pub floor that sticks to the sole.
Past glassy piss-factories, vitrines of vertical drinkers,
smokers and vapers, smartphones flipped, juggled on the flop,
the jig and jag, the jokey rib-punch, joshing on the step,
the middling men paunching untucked shirts.
Past face-aches, blue-rinsers, tranked Neds and jellied Nellies,
the liggers, lounge-lizards, the bilious prannets with previous;
over the vom, coffin-dodgers, pavement pizzas.
Past Halal taxi, Polski Smak (Scag? S&M? Happy-slappers?)
Through carparks, ruinous estates, urinous underpasses
carpeted by bozos, piss-pants and crusty-white rastas.
Up there the bunker: rachitic saplings on a raw-estate,
the boarded-up shops, bars on barwindows. Inside asboids,
pickled eggs, pork scratchings, Britain’s Hardest Landlord,
ripped leatherette and coughed-up stuffing.
It’s all argument, argot and grot; booze, palaver and pants.
Give me your piss-poor, your pilchards, your pillocks.
Think back to the old blokes, the smoky Snug, the snecklifter;
the art-college year, the one you dropped out for the boozer till 3,
Somali Club afternoons, and back again for early doors.
That urgent note drilling the zinc, ringing out loud
–ah the paintings you’d paint, the poems you’d write! –
as you emptied all your warmth in the singing pissoir.
Philip Larkin Dreams of the Myth Kitty at The Cock and Bull
It was never dull in mythological Hull,
but no one was ever quite who they seemed.
That bloke in the pub: half-man or just half-mad?
And your dad, but of course, that stud claimed to be half-horse,
and was then his other half half-mare, mer-, or just barmaid?
We were half-fish, tadpole, toad (we put the crap in crapaud),
shape-shifting higher and higher up our wish-lists.
Listening to each poet’s shaggy tales we did the maths,
remained one hundred-and-ten percent non gullible,
all of us full, full to the gills with cock and bull.
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Friday, 22 January 2010 at 11:26