‘High Society’ by Ian Humphreys

Inside the camphorwood chest – forgotten treasure:
a pair of leather cowboy boots with metal toe caps.
How they shone. As loud, proud and polished
as the men
they sparked a trail through.

Three decades of dust can’t hide the cracks.
A genie-rub conjures up swirls of dry ice, the wink
of the glitter ball, and the Night Fever dance floor,
a chequerboard
where we played by the rules.

Once, I was unknotted from an embrace
on that pulsing stage by Fat Geoff, the bouncer.
Two men holding each other in public:
We could lose our licence, boys.
                        All that first summer, as the last song

faded in – always Louis Armstrong singing
High Society – my best friend and I would drop
our coats, link arms and glide across glass squares.
The lights below us
burning brighter with every step.

High Society was a 1980s gay nightclub off Princess Street in Manchester

(previously unpublished)

Ian Humphreys lives in West Yorkshire. His work has been published in journals including Ambit, Butcher’s Dog, Poetry News and The Rialto. In 2016, he won the Poetry Society’s Hamish Canham Prize and was selected for The Complete Works III. Ian holds an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University. A portfolio of his poems will feature in Ten: Poets of the New Generation (Bloodaxe) later this year.