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Harehills

Harehills, choked up with red brick
and flowing with arms and legs
neon, rubbish, laundry and takeaway food
and trees, receding up the road towards Oakwood,
Gipton, Gledhow valley, smells of fruit and spices
from the grocers' displays and the restaurants
traffic endlessly flowing through a nexus
and the hills swarming with rust coloured terraces

everything is moving, snow in a snow shaker, storms
of thought and movement like driven raindrops
the hotels are half empty and the call shops are full
as everyone tries to reach home -
distorted words at 30p a minute, stories that now seem strange
and back to the neon, red brick labyrinth,
storm-stunned, hallucinated and now precious

Juicy Acid Purple

Linda was little girls
27 years old dancing in a circle for happy,
playing patched-up Pink Floyd cassettes
on an old player with the batteries taped in.
She hung beads and stars from her ceiling
and baked bread cake on Sundays
when she needed to remember home.

Home was her parents and Ricky.
Ricky would pull a condom through his nose
and make her scream. She loved everything he did.
Her mother was Mammy, almost blind,
but still canny enough to make her way to England
to visit. Dad was going to lose his legs to gangrene
unless he quit smoking, but he wouldn't.
They did everything their own way.

So did she, getting stoned before her exams,
living with a beautiful boy called Stephanos
who named his guitar after her - in Spanish,
Linda means beautiful. Besides, he loved her.
We all played cards into the small hours
and I'd curse the worst I could
until I finally managed to make her flinch.
"Alan, would you kiss your mammy with that mouth?"

We went to Amsterdam and I wanted to trip, but
"All that's behind me now," she would say.
"I like my bit of spliff and that's it."
She told me her stories, days and weeks
lost in a different world of crazed friends,
sailing dangerous on the edge of insane.
She told me about Juicy Acid Purple, a colour
only trippers knew. I wanted her to describe it.
"I can't, Alan. They don't have that colour here.
It's just not part of the plan."

After an eighth of hash, I always thought she spoke
with the voice of God. It was the most
important thing in the world that I listen to her.
I just wish I could remember what it was she said.

I moved away and lost touch, like she'd said I would.
Later her dad died, and she went back home,
and all I found of her when I looked was a note
tacked to a board; a second-hand report
from a distant friend; little girl-shadows here and there,
holding hands like girl shapes cut into newspaper;
memories, dancing in a circle.