The Loop At The Edge Of Reason

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The Loop At The Edge Of Reason


Christmas eve seventy-seven

Snowflakes prickle on exposed skin

I pull the duffle coat tight around my neck

As I weave my weary way up Westgate

Glancing in the Black Horse windows

As the amber light spills out

Onto the crystal streets of Wakefield

Paving them in wuffle-dust


My mind wanders and gears click

As I think of all the Holy nights past

Where gaslight danced across these paths

And drunken revelry fell from Merrie City bars

And suddenly there is an extra chill

That criss-crosses down my stooping spine

And for a second I catch a glimpse of dark shadows

Trailing in my wake – but then they’re gone


Ahead a figure robed in black

Strides out towards the cathedral

Cloaked in grey sleet finery

And there is something familiar in that gait

And I speed up to catch him

My breath billowing like a steam engine

Trying to climb an incline

With heavy twentieth century cargo


I nearly catch him too

As he ducks down the alley

Cobbled ginnel

Next to the giant spire

He turns just for a second

And I swear I recognise

The family features

and the fearful eyes


Then I am out of the mouth of the passage

And the juke box at The Raven

Blairs out its Status Quo beat

Into an empty street

The figure gone like a dream

At the alarm clock shiver

Of any morning anywhere

In any time.


Christmas eve ninety-nine

Sat in the Black Horse on Westgate

I glance out of the window

And see a huddled figure

Drunkenly staggering up the hill

And think I recognise the coat he wears

That grey threadbare duffle coat

That died in some forgotten wardrobe


I quaff the pint of lager quickly

Pulling on the biker leathers

And rush out into the early evening dusk

The black velvet falling across my home city

And I cross the road and follow the form

As it climbs the hill

And for some reason I pause as he glances back

Not wishing to be seen


And he leads me

To the passageway

That cuts between

The gothic church

And through

Into The Springs


He disappears


And I swear upon all that is holy

That as I followed in his path

I sensed an old man

Following me closely

Along the Westgate Run

Staying out of sight

Behind me

At the edge of reason

ageingages of manday4dreamsnapowrimo2020old wakefieldtime loop

◄ Indebted

Painting By Numbers ►


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Ian Whiteley

Sun 5th Apr 2020 14:59

cheers Ray - it's weird where these NapoWriMo prompts take you - this was an actual dream I had many years ago - and it was both comforting and threatening in equal measure. The older man is me looking back on it now - so I've added a fourth character to the dream 😃 Hope you are well mate 😃

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Sat 4th Apr 2020 17:49

A sense of the unknown pervades this with its background of familiarity to the poet, and gives us an ache for resolution. It reminds me of a cinematic distancing effect, especially as the subsequent experience is still in the past. The cleverness of it is in the unresolved wonder. A powerful piece of writing Ian. I crave good poetry and you don't disappoint. I first read of the ginnel in Alan Bennett's autobiography. These alleys I have explored myself on my musical jaunts, one in particular in Brighouse near the canal. Super all round.
Stay safe!


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