Tenement Life

an exercise in memory in three parts


To seek out,
to remember,
to be somewhere home,

through a half-called past’s
muggy fugue,
a muddied memory mumbles
and walks the talk-
my mind blindly tumbles
on tentative, spindly,
five-year-olds legs
to childhood tenement life…

the outside loo-
it’s broken door

the flushed out
routine stench
of strangers shit.

Down sunken, petted lips
of worn-out stairs
to the gloom-soaked
close foot, badly lit

scuffing up my snotty nose
seeps the foreboding must
of a dead cobblers shop-

mice families scuttle in soot
and are shelved with leather
off-cuts, bent nails and sleeping lasts,

and where,
recalling in dust-speckled light
a succession of tails can be seen
in the half-light, switching
along our flaking pelmet,
windscreen-wiping away
snug notions of safety.

My young mum
eeks a dance, battering the brush.
Erratic thumps, curtain rustles,
dancing feet and screams.
Thumping, squeaking, scuttling, screams.

Shake, rattle and roll.


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