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Fran Lock: a poem

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.

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