Silent Night [a seasonal pome]
‘Don’t look at faces.
Don’t look at faces.
Look at Christmas lights.
Look at pavements glinting with gum.
Look anywhere, but not at faces,
faces stab you with darts of
rage, despair, envy, spite.
Don’t look at the faces.’
At ‘The Oaks’
the walls were decked
with balloons, festive holly,
crepe festoons - no mistletoe though.
A yellow-flame gas-fire spread pale warmth.
A Santa automaton ‘ho yo hoed’.
The juke box was bust.
Enter old man with white stick and natty fedora.
Someone asked someone else,
‘You seen Charlie’s new hat?’
‘Nah and neither has he. You geddit?’
Charlie drank a pint and shuffled for another.
All eyes followed his clumsy return
sharing sniggering glances as he sat
crushing the hat,
someone had hidden beneath his cushion,
then someone laughed
and someone else joined in -
forging fleeting jollity.
‘That’s the best thing I’ve seen all year.’
Thirty silent minutes later
Charlie stood to leave,
fumbled for his fedora and
noting the chuckling
swore from his sullen darkness,
‘Where you hid my hat, you bastards?’