Tuesday, 15 May 2018

The Roadmenders

“Alright lads?
“Wanna go bashin’?”
(Left a out a missing
Prefix still chucked about in ‘92
Stuck before
Shop cab bastard)
Comes the question from
The two foot above
It CCTV seems
Above the rifting keen
Co-conspirator Kid 1
And the pint-sized
Shoe-gazing Kid 2

Schools out for the summer
At the uptown bus station
Minus an hour before
Shopping centre closing
The one the colour
Of strewn nugget boxes
Keeps shtum
But the question’s sniped
At the other one
Seen by this Kwik Save Kaiser
As an ally
In his civil war
Of them and us

The red plastic seated answer
Is spoken on behalf of the brigade
By eyes raised past
Combat 18 and
Fine young casuals
Window tattoos
Spells Oi
With the answer
“Oh aye”

Two yards behind
With tail between
Kid 2 sums the square root
Of what ‘bashing’ might mean
Kid 1 copies the
Shoulder roll
That’s default in the city
But these 2 wear small town epaulets
They spit their epithets at
Innocent targets
And at the back
Kid 2 drags black trainers
Of just the right make
To pass muster by peers and school
And hopes this will all be over soon

Schools out for the summer
As the cajoled patrol
The last half hour
Lads from the other side of town’s
Balconied groups get dispersed
By this adolescent justice squadron’s
Long division
It’s shopping centre cleansing
With pats on backs
As kid 1’s copied slurs
And racist turns and
“Fuck off back to”s and
Intimidation tactics are
Plastered mouth wise
By the steely eagle eyed
And the tin pot soldier in the making
Past sweater shops
Smith’s and HMVs
In a superfluous
Shopping mall sweep

The peer-pressured mission
Is over
As General Disorder gets the bus back
To the ‘pure’ part of town
Kid 1 is all elation
And half-arsed victory
Kid 2 just wants home
Away from the sick subjugated shame
This witless witness with a
Lily-livered deafness
To his mate’s bus stop boasts
He waits

Another lad from school
Respected for his quiet
‘Don’t fuck wi’ me’ demeanour
Gets off the bus
At the same of height and
Bone head hair cut
As the recently exited
Ethnic cleanser
This kid 3’s glasses and freckled face
Takes it’s place in the shelter
With nods from
Especially the one
Who fingernails for an excuse
For distraction
The surly “Alright”s
Drop from spotty gobs
The ask of “What y’up to”
Is stopped sharp
By the hunted
Gathering circles
To avenge shout
“There’s the bastard!”
And as two and two
Are added in
Brutal revenge is taken out
On the mistaken identity
Of the new lad on the scene
Broken glasses and bust nose
Paint the dimpled floor
Kid 1 offers a McSorry napkin
Kid 2 cannot speak
Kid 2 cannot

The buses separate
The good the bad and unlucky
Kid 2 on the bone-shaker back home
Guilts past
The Castle Pub’s backroom
Past meetings and action formulations
Past the bricked-in Chinese chippy
Past the lamppost flowers
And the faded family photo
Past the un-phobic un-prefixed shops
Feels the blow to the back of his head
Feels the shift of the empathetic cortex
To his front seat of learning
Feels the lesson life redress
Adding up to
Not only
That he’ll never
Take this road again
But from now on in
Dig it up
Council style every time
Dig it up
When it’s fit to division drive
Dig it up
When the bus does a detour right
Dig it up
With all his determined pint-sized might
Dig it up again

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