Now Pop’s mates drank the way it was,
a micro-brewed, trad tankard ale,
dark porter, best, old bitter men,
the ones who like beer without froth,
just hops and crafted barley malt,
the snug, shebeen, speak-easy crew.
But Ma, cleanliness next to God –
those soaps by which my mother swore,
oaths stifled as she scrubbed my ears,
me killing Sunlight, hating bars –
Palm Olive, Lifebuoy, coal tar dished,
suds, washing-up, cage swished in bowl,
enamel chipped or Belfast sink.
And to escape clean drinking dens,
that disinfectant linger smell,
the baccy, damp floors, mop or swill,
I learned to look and see again –
a renaissance of viewing skills,
take nothing as at first it seemed.
The awakening, twist, verbal thrust,
arousal, like some Kraken deal,
iconoclast, still life a blast,
rampaging through our culture style.
They say I’m cussèd, but I like
my playpen, meaning, given words,
another of the awkward squad,
stir up to make me think again,
borne out of my punned parenthood –
for why use two when one will do?
Those terms I skew, find something new –
not intended, I suspect,
not expected, I assume,
or maybe theirs a double bluff,
outlandish cove, loves sowing doubt?
Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had some 250 pieces published by 40 publishers – on-line poetry sites, including Poetry Potion, printed journals and anthologies. https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com/