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My England

Poet: Dave Wakely

I sometimes catch it in the softest glimpses,

The hints of red emulsion left under yellowing gloss.

In souvenirs of love affairs that sparked as brief as

Safety matches in a windswept garden,

Or a lavender beret glimpsed through a crowd

On a man who isn’t quite the one we buried.

Or else in the choruses of old songs heard from passing cars,

Half-remembered accompaniments to half-forgotten marches,

The banners and the slogans lost with their causes.

 

Or else it comes in sharp reminders: the protest steward’s lanyard

Still hanging from the spare-room door handle,

The washed-out union tea-towel draped over the proving dough.

The hamster paw skeleton that breaks the surface

Whenever the dog digs under the rhododendrons.

 

My England still exists in buried places –

In festival photographs three layers deep on dusty pinboards

And two-coloured dusters torn from a rainbow t-shirt,

Daydreams forsaken like unfashionable toys.

They’re yesterday’s tomorrows now. First drafts of prologues

To unperformed plays, ticket stubs for journeys not taken

On branch lines to new homes that we never built.

A ghost-town cinema’s Coming Soon posters

For films that never played, their promise as

Faded as a shuttered gay bar’s purple stamp

On a beer-soaked, hungover hand.

 

Futures not lived like lint-coated peppermints in a mothballed jacket pocket,

Anguishes abandoned like burned-out cars.

Distant now as a housemartin’s call from a tower-block’s eaves,

Faint and faraway as starlight.

Raised in London, Dave Wakely has worked as a musician, university administrator, poetry librarian, and editor. Since completing a Creative Writing MA, his writing has appeared in Ambit, Chelsea Station, Fictive Dream, Glitterwolf, Holdfast, The Mechanics’ Institute Review, Prole, Shooter, Token and Truffle Mag, amongst others.  One of the organisers of Milton Keynes Literature Festival, he lives in Buckinghamshire with his husband and too many books, CDs and guitars. He tweets as @theverbalist.