Issue #8

Finsbury Park, London, 1961

[after Don McCullin]

Eddie lifted his foot onto the chipped chair,
shoes buffed the colour of that full rum bottle
sat on the makeshift games table.
We’d brought our furniture out to the yard.  
I’d just shorn my brother’s hair tight,
the clippings of his afro blew away
through London backstreets
like tumbleweed.
This England was warming up,
us three prepared to drink and gamble.
We matched up the pips of dominoes,
the knocks on Formica getting harder, louder.
Then we’d mix-up the numbers,
talk about Jamaica and ‘tip-over’ points.
It brought my woman out to click her tongue
wafting away ‘Player’s Navy Cut’ smoke,
snatching our washing to fold and straighten.
Then Benny tried to spook us,
fell backwards onto a chatter of bottles.
Days later my head stretches the crew neck
of that smoked tee-shirt into a new world.

Karl Riordan