I recognise the worn teeth of his rattle-clacker
against the Waltzer’s siren.
No name in lights or thumping decibels,
a row of ugly numbskulls
sitting cockeyed on sawdust pedestals.
The years have whistled him by,
the same shock of silver hair,
the puckish smile still spoiling for a dirty joke.
Looks like we’ve got a contender
he announces, slipping my pound into his money bag
and handing me three wooden balls.
The first slaps the worn backing canvas, wild
as the second but closer than the third,
when’s the last time you had your eyes tested?
he crows, and I’m right where he wants me,
that teenage boy again,
flushed with embarrassment
and digging for the loose change in my pocket.
(first published in The Rialto, 2016)
Squeezed into their brilliant whites,
they descend upon the gated grass island,
this is rock ‘n’ roll in pressed trousers,
two fingers to the rheumatologist’s advice.
There’s stubbornness in that plate of egg ‘n’ cress sandwiches,
the kind that tells an invading Armada to wait –
wait for the clustered rattle of the Jack-high line,
Newton’s bias launched from a rubber mat
and urged into a parabola.
Together, they backbone all-weathers,
tough as hillside sheep,
strumming the lawn’s chords
with their rolling woods,
certain as death and taxes;
even when the flag hangs half-mast,
the mower will crank
and the day rolls on.
Dan Stathers is a writer and anchorite from South Devon with a growing interest in Egyptology, vuz-pegs and wortcunning. Twitter @danstathers