I think of the times I would mope about Wolverhampton
eyes glazed and jeans baggy around my arse, the hint
of a builder. I would proudly shuffle them down, notch by notch
until full boxer salute tipped out-wards. Blind in one eye,
and hiding bottles of beer behind music venues we would
finger and thumb jelly sweets, and melt them against the Civic Centre.
Here in our nest we would test our vodka resilience, two-step
to hated music and seek refuse in a business mans briefcase.
Growing up around panicked phone calls to parents when one of us
would take it a step too far and finish the bottle, reeking of
tobacco in the journey home when tabs inside were still legal.
Early doors, sober and keen to trot out and try our luck again,
antiquities, tarnished books and midlands drawl.
Your fathers fathers father probably paced these steps,
catching the train to Birmingham if he had the money.
Of course the borstals here taught children to be men when
Catholic guilt caused an influx of fractured youth.
I wanna be an army man, smart jackets and flashy
I’d strut the yam-yam jam, hoping that I can one day grow
to be that man that can-cans his way far away.
Reused bus tickets crammed into pockets, against full stomachs from stolen bread and water and we would party-bus our way into the sticks to see
how those that made it live.
Now? I wake to electric currents, reverberations, vibrations
and it’s gone. Starving nicotine flashes and I’m jolted out wards
along mirrored walkways. I run my hand across the wall
and feel the cracks, the arrows all point southward.