Gary Allen: ‘Grace’


That was a short stay
the terraced house in North Street
with the King Billy mural on the gable wall

and the thin blue envelopes marked par avion
that flew in from another world

underlined with sex—
that was before my fall from grace—

filling the narrow threadbare hallway
like pages from a modern poetry book
about light houses

and how to die many times

but that as the madness of the seventies
leaving the house by the back door
to avoid climbing over the barricades.

Everything was second hand
the slow gas cooker
the broken slat furniture
the dead widow’s beast of a bed

with its nesting mice and nightmares

the stolen typewriter made in China
without a key for one

and the bare light bulb in the kitchen
burning into the late morning
Benzedrine in coffee cups

with the smell of smouldering tyres:

you don’t come back when you leave these places
even though you tell yourself they were the simple best
the rest is like a speeding train to a relentless future

through early morning English fields

leaving behind writing that was never pure enough
for errors, mistakes, and funeral parlours—

and a young Polish couple hang out washing on the line
that flaps like great white birds
in a hard cold sky of blue—
or fruit rotting in abandoned gardens.

Gary Allen

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