By: Stephen Kingsnorth
This eyrie place,
is it maids’ garret or penthouse space,
servant peephole surveying class
or milling subjects from royal box,
pink plaza market peopled underneath?
A portrait gallery:
summer clothes brought out for wear,
sunshine fashions unwrapping scare,
swaddled usually from view,
hairless legs displayed below
heavies bulging all their clothes,
flesh overlapping tighter belts,
baggy saggy folds of skin,
balding heads, also the men.
Neat perms, unexpected purple hair,
as if the verse been given air,
banded leopard-skin from veldt
while beside, Tiggers bounce along.
Necklace, pendant standing clear,
variety of darkened frames;
works outings, anglers shoulder rods,
autistic, brain damaged, mental despair
‘he said’, ‘she said’, telling tales.
of wind-billowed shirts in full sail,
tighter tops crow from their nest.
Horizontal skirt lines make fat,
vertical stripe shirts with spindle pins
like walking deck chairs, seaside rock,
or toothpaste wiggled from the tube.
Shin-bone parchment kicks and flicks,
light tubular and alpine props,
mountaineers who lost their way;
bike-leathers, lederhosen, ankles, calves,
and knees, some mummified,
pants patterned with exotic plants.
Outcome drinking too much sack or port decant,
unmoulded, jelly moves around,
out of place, unrestricted, loose,
under shapeless sack of cloth.
wide brimmed straw hats and soccer caps,
unanticipated baseball peaks
above shrimp forehead peeking out,
sporting comb-over, though no hair.
Dragons chase round legs and waists,
attempting discreet, adjusting crotch,
emblazoned tee shirts selling wares,
bottled beers, philosophies, pontificating politics.
Laces, pink luminous, tight hose,
poor wheelchair pushers play charades,
erecting backs despite thick hips,
thighs with wives and brindle lives.
Sensible daughters, three-generation women walk,
retired professionals, one can tell,
hotel staff quell boredom, but return
for lunchtime bell, escaping
conveyor belt of heat control.
preying birds on ice patrol,
by the kiosk, hunting ground,
seagulls mobbing, snatching cones,
marauder flight-path over shielding arms,
speeding legs, after passing bird repast,
feruled lunge fending feral strikes.
Varicose show, collections of inks,
paints bordering waist-band of pants,
tattoos like the Rosetta stone.
Directors, shades, as if the mob,
hotel guests discussing lunch and
back street bunch from grim estate,
conversations, catching up
on crass dads, dissolute behaviours, disrepute.
What backstories, criminals, affairs,
unstained babies doomed for gloom?
A dog show
panting, clipped, trimmed or shaggy piled,
unleash of hair-styled coats and swags,
just like the man-beards passing through.
Flame red harness holding back,
miniatures dressed flowered body socks,
gulls bigger than chiwawa toy;
connected canines create the course,
stringing along the captive crew,
pulling their sluggard, overheated stray.
of green tee-shirted playgroup kids
cheers, at domestic Judy punch;
new arrivals taking stock, surveying scene,
grinning as memory replayed,
choice-facing spot of where to go.
The glamorous lead parties in decrepitude
potterers, striders, buggies too,
toddlers claiming carry space,
students, international school,
clip-board, hand-hold, project queue.
And rolling by,
old-fashioned chairs, almost bath,
bike wheels, tyred frames, scooter pairs,
as if the Christmas present trial.
Ladies of leisure pushed along,
unwilling captives given air,
manhandling, angled ladies heave,
frail wiry men, exhausted lean,
pushing wives, propelling peers.
sandals, clogs and hob-healed boots,
painted nails, protective plaits,
cast off jackets, woollies, anoraks,
canvas satchels strung round neck,
shoulder bags and haversacks, stuffed
with fluffy bears, created fantasies.
grilled gargoyles grip claimed sanctuary seats,
approach the altar, seaside steps,
censing bucket, salt fragrant prayers.
Others fill salt water font, baptising waves,
shrouds, clouds, cumulus lock church doors,
adornments, paraphernalia, garb,
appurtenances, scant time to meditate,
seek lectern, pulpit, table food;
‘Not going deaf, just couldn’t hear’,
saline spray doused by burger smells,
vapours pass, whiff gobbled up.
Friendships brewed on wooden bench,
companionship at picnic site,
launching Mollie from her sitting start on slatted gap;
here’s gentry curl of former years,
stretched crescent by Llandudno pier.