Lady

 

Tesco on one hand, Asda on the other
(no room for Morrisons today)
the bag lady walks upwind
of the four-by-fours, breathing her collar
hoping to catch the bus empty
and a driver of warm disposition.

Her coat has the blue matt sheen
of a larkspur Georgian fountain pen.
She lays her life out on the seat
in photographs: jinks at eighteen,
caravan lost, son sampling Sauternes.
Her talisman coin drops at my feet.

She says to me, “If God got on
he wouldn’t be the inspector. Deity
don’t insist. They don’t tell you that
at no depot. That you are human
means treat you with decency.”
She bends to the floor
 
to gather spent tickets like bets:
moistens each, wipes them with her hair.
I return the tin disc. Bamboo, bamboo
the bus wags, the shelter melts,
the road rages. We are thrown together
like two leaves in a fine avenue.

 

*


Resolutions

 

I’ll rise to avoiding myself. I’ll snub
my Facebook blogs on the stuff of my life:
my binge, my bingo, my lotto stub.

I’ll up and updumb, not be the lug
in the public bar. I’ll marry my wife.
I’ll rise to avoiding myself. I’ll snub

my credit card cookoo, my spittlebug
swagger that brays I’ll survive
my binge, my bingo, my lotto stub

to find X Factor fame, and after Big Brother
live on a Seychelle, or a Maldive.
I’ll rise to avoiding myself. I’ll snub

the amoral hopeless Pandora’s tub
of total tat I live to breathe: 
my binge, my bingo, my lotto stub.

Till vomit stay down, till numbers come up
is too long to wait, too long to grieve.
I’ll rise to avoiding myself. I’ll snub
my binge, my bingo, my lotto stub.

 

*


Pickled Gherkins

 

My uncle Taddy, from Gdansk
in Poland, loves his pickles.

He would not give a thank you
for fresh stuff. He makes planks -

long strips of pickled gherkin
to cover his plate edge in.

He puts mountains of vinegary
cabbage in the middle like a V

and - in between - a walnut
or two from a jar, like Pizza Hut

and then some Pan Yan
and potato salad if he can.

His plate is full and beautiful
and when he takes a mouthful

my auntie laughs.

 


*

More Phil Burton poems here

Phil's article about poetry here

 

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