God Bobfrey’s Gone

God Bobfrey’s gone like the smoke from childhood fires

Comforting cartoons when three o’clock brings winter darkness

God Bobfrey draw me scratchy felt tip motion memory

The milk that freezes in the bottles

Prompting ice cream morning glory

Ice erections forcing green top

Bottle caps off

On the redbrick windowsill

In the bare trees birds are watching

All the vanished sparrows pierce

The shiny foil and drink the cream

The snow comes down like dreamers’ eyelids

Whiting out the day but for the

Coloured rags tied round the bursting

Water pipes like flags and scarves brought to adorn

The crazy bulging dry stone wall

And when we jump from on the air raid

Shelter’s rusted corrugated

Iron roof, the snow will hold us

Soft and cold and deep

School stayed open and

We took our playtimes outside still

And threw ourselves down icy paths

Each sliding flailing bruising body

Polishing the glass

And everyone in class with bloody noses

Racing home

With snowballs hiding stones

Grudgingly I must confess

We need the middle classes

They are good at certain basic

Jobs in arts administration

When they’ve finished pissing round

In Brighton and in Shoreditch

“And actually you know they do

Work bloody hard”

And sometimes pay

For poetry

We were born of massive psychic trauma

The end of oil and post-war hope

Check the records: 69-71

Of Altamont and death by water

Paris bathtub, dream is over

Ali beaten, Vietnam

Nixon black and white TV

And all we hear is “got to get back”

“Horse with no name”

“Jesus was”

And “Let me off this”

Then Jeff Nuttall making black

Ice cream, this New Orleans style

Funeral for Pisces age that

Never turned Aquarius

And Hebden Bridge all head shops

Haunted by the crows of Hughes and Heathcliff

Lost before the floods

Let’s play Yorkshire Ripper

Hiding out behind the lock-up

Garages on the estate at night

I will attack you

Force you to the ground

We’re only eight years old, we know

He could be anybody’s dad

Killing little girls with hammers

Writing cut-up letters like

The Sex Pistols

And one day you will meet a man

Whose car will smell inside

Of sunburnt leather

He will take you on the moors

And touch you with his driving gloves

And he will show you stars and where

They buried other children before

You were born

And on the edge of things you’ll see

The factory chimneys rising high

And nothing else will be the same

The motorway will cover

Many sins

Get the bus from North Bridge to

The scarred top of the world

Where some men keep sad bony horses

In their council houses’ bedrooms

Where the walls are crumbling

And everyone sleeps through the same

Asbestos coated dreams

Where a black American

Still parks a Cadillac

Outside the pebble-dashed grey cul-de-sac

They say he was a blues musician

Laughs and gives the children spice

When they say sing us a song

Like “Elvis Presley, having a baby, sitting on the back seat”

The clouds so low they pass through you

Paint graffiti on the wind, it’s thick enough

With Branwell Bronte, sinking pints

In Luddenden, the books

You’ll never write are washed

Out with the slops across the cobbles

Know they built the railways for a reason

Now you watch the trains all come

And go, and drink some more

And hate your sisters, till another

Seizure takes you

When I was younger I knew it

From shit, I think I was

Afraid to be unsure

I had a plastic dinosaur

And waited for the UFOs

And fathers say “I love you” now and

Television never ends and

Roobarb is in

Roobarb Heaven, but

God Bobfrey’s gone

Bob Godfrey’s gone

As well

(from The Last Auk and other poems, (c) 2013).


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