November – Harry Gallagher

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Busker

Face ruddy from sunlight
or wind or drink
or the passingbyness
of strangers,
in tardy Autumn sunshine
he basks.

Bassdrum on back,
hi-hat atop wildman locks.
Fingers punchdrunk
from the plucking
on an oxidised guitar.

Lonesome asa cowboy,
his harmonica kisses
cry birdsong.

 

 

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Harpman

Yearning to be sucked in
through the buzzsaw grid,
the air is painted deep blue
by the reddening of lips,

until she wails
a world of longing
that seeps into
ancient oak surrounds.

Each lonesome cowboy’s gal,
every sunkeneyed lament
is kissed and made better
by the old chrome doctor.

 

 

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Playing With Time

Like a witch’s familiar
toys with its kill,
so a long gone blackman
is gone, gone, gone.

Blowing blazing hot
with time on a string,
pausing cool to stretch
that rasping horn voice
lazy over the loosest tune.

In a time locked saloon
we sway and swoon
over waxing words
melting on paper,
filling in cracks
from a different time.

 

 

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Perfect Saturday

The spears of
a fret strewn Saturday
are cast off
as a guitarman plays.

Little fingers hold the tremolo
and Honolulu beckons,
surfboard sketching faint
lovehearts in the sand.

And the fishquay
spoons the world
in its tender hands
and sings Moon River
to no one and everyone,
while Hank’s old eyes
sparkle like rain
pattering on paving.

Stripping years away
as the cafe hums
and a pensioner strums
on a perfect Saturday.

 

 

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Miss Ellerby

Miss Ellerby briefly played piano
beneath fast flickering film.
A life in black and white,
her Henry having succumbed
to the guns of Passendale;
a crimson crotchet
on a swaying stave.

And when the pictures started talking
this redundant ivory tickler
became piano teacher extraordinaire.
Day and night, breathing life
into the bodies of work
of long dead composers.

Month after year, stretching her patience
and her cardigan elbows
on Mozart resistant children
and sausage fingered heretics,
until Evensong was played for her
by a pianist she’d never heard of.

And the kids-turned-adults,
who had called her a witch
and had sucked painfully on
the Benelyn flavoured bricks
she dished out as boiled sweets,
gathered to share stories.

And the spine tinglers,
which flowed from her
anytime we’d listen,
were held like fragile lovers.

And as we looked at our fingers
dancing over invisible keys,
the truth was revealed,
scarier than any ghoul.

The old witch had seeped
her magic through knuckles and skin,
for all the time we had sniggered behind hands,
the spell had been sinking in.