Sid James at the Poetry Society
Cor blimey! If you're wearing those clothes for a bet,
you've won. If you're wearing that face, and the pious
spiky scent of 'olly round St Giles; dogshit of ambition.
Listen. Men with liverish agendas, settin' the world to
rights. Selective evolution. All your dovey grammars
turned to ash. Go on, sotto my donkey caste. I'll lower
orders you. Mush. Mate. Cold tongue forked from
tins, this poetry. Any waxy meat you'd cook, in galley
kitchens sick with steam: curried offals, gurry, treyf.
I 'eard the key turn in the can, and only once; thinking
of the key, each confirms 'is pound of Spam. The scorn
of sawdust pork. 'eritage of gelatine, and salt cut
sharp across the bottom lip. All my meatloaf koshers
kept through years as lean as Loof. A post-war strife-
beef picked from teeth, this poetry. You take a man
like me, go on. My scrumpy luck. The pratfall fabric
of my face. Just look. Between remission and remand.
The stogie slang of ashtrays. Laugh like asphalt
and cheroot. Steel rods of reason? Cut my first
tooth on this Shiviti's avant bent. I did! You call me
that again. Mate. Mush. You ghettos of low culture,
me. I'll blow my baccy Yiddish up your nose. And if
you cough I'll kill you. Woodbines, Newkie Brown,
pneumatic pianolas, all are 'oly! 'oly! 'oly! To
grease the palms of geezers, 'oly. Saloon bar brawl
with knees up, 'oly. This corrugated patois, 'oly!
'ammersmith and fulam, 'oly. Whitechapel most
of all is 'oly. Or let me tell you, boy. You're not
worth the sweat off my perceptions. Read your
stinking poetry. Your poetry is for plumbers
sucking spit across their teeth. Your poetry is
for rent collectors rubbing their hands at your
sorry arrears. You're magistrates clearing your
throat for the long custodial, you are mate.
Mush. Toothache and souvenir, your language.
Mine's the squeeze, the fleece, and fleet to
fence. Seen sideways with a forger's squint.
Nights of nicotine limbo, shirts boiled grey
in a boarding house, my landlady looming
in rollers like Jove. Is life, boy. The barrow
adage spun to song. In Babylon's mouth
in the morning, reeling along the railway
line. You'll never know, who priss our
grudging fables into irony. Cor blimey! If
you're writing that shit for a bet, you've won.
I've lead pipes, fortunes made. Six-to-four;
come in second. Hawk and hock. To knick,
to knock on wood. Hang your paper fate
like bad cheques all over town. Blue Haringey,
White City. Euston Square, a slant aside. Your
blood libel. Here's my shadow, slouching behind
me, holding his trousers up with a nylon rope
This poetry. Your poetry. An ugly jaundiced
formula. Will wash my lascivia animi out
with Lifebuoy soap
Dr Fran Lock is a some-time itinerant dog whisperer, the author of seven poetry collections and of numerous chapbooks, most recently Contains Mild Peril (Out-Spoken Press, 2019). Fran has recently completed her Ph.D. at Birkbeck College, University of London, titled, "Impossible Telling and the Epistolary Form: Contemporary Poetry, Mourning and Trauma". She is an Associate Editor at Culture Matters.