TRIGGER AT THE ADELPHI HOTEL, LIVERPOOL, MARCH 1954

For Alex Cox



This is the year Dien Bien Phu falls,

Algeria rises, segregation is

ruled illegal in the USA,

the first kidney is transplanted and UK

wartime food rationing finally ends.

Lime Street was filled with thousands of boys and girls,

gathered to greet the singing, celluloid,

Born Again cowpoke, Roy Rogers (erstwhile

Leonard Slye), and his entourage – combining

a promo tour with a Billy Graham

crusade.

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THE SUBURBS OF FOLLY

OR CARE IN THE COMMUNITY


People new to the neighbourhood soon notice,

rising from one of the walled gardens

or the terraced yards, an occasional

bird call – wood pigeon or even cuckoo?

Distracted by the previous owners’ always

doubtful detritus, it takes them longer

to realise the sounds are human though

of indeterminate age and gender.

Exchanging a Victorian madhouse

for a gentrified Victorian suburb,

making ambiguous bird noises rather

than rocking to and fro in the urine-stink

must be better –

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HERONS IN THEIR HABITATS, LOVERS IN THEIR LIVES

'The Heron Hunt', Eugene Fromentin 1820-1876

i

A heron – self-motivated, self-contained, aloof – stands,

between a potted phormium and a wooden Buddha,

on the roof of a houseboat on the Prinsengracht in Amsterdam,

two metres or so from passing cyclists on the embankment

and the nervous tourists queuing for Anne Frank’s house.

ii

A heron – undisturbed, unconnected, elsewhere – perches securely

on a fallen oak beside a Cheshire pond near the motorway,

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LOCAL AUTHORITY

The rain was heavy.  The road was slurred

with cow muck and clay. I slowed

then stopped the car as a straggle of cows

swayed round the bend in the lane.

Large, wild eyes caught me – dry, warm

and listening  to a string quintet –

on County Council business.

One of the beasts, sashaying to a

milky music, nudged a wing mirror askew.

Dense hedgerow became sky of enduring grey.

The elderly cowman plodded at the rear.

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NOT ANYTHING TO SHOW MORE FAIR

'Westminster Bridge', Canaletto, 1746



A league from Hoole is Westminster Bridge,

Ellesmere Port. Like Wordsworth, I composed on it.

The brick replica replaced the level

crossing, after the Borough had built

the Civic Hall in the boom time: Shell, Vauxhall,

overspill estates – a working class city.

Jobs went, the bridge stayed, no one made jokes.

The high street, strait, terraced, encompassed

all: Big Mac and sometimes on Sundays

Russian sailors window-shopping.

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UNDER NOVEMBER SKIES

The rain has stopped. We can hear only the wind

and a swollen stream – hidden beneath

the high moor’s golden fern – rush through a culvert

under the road, which glistens, after the shower,

in an unexpected shaft of sunlight.

Rain clouds are blackening the mountains

to the west but northwards, beyond bracken

and gorse that stretches seemingly to land’s edge,

through a gap in the hills, we can see the sea,

a sunny blue, and a white ship sailing east –

too far away to recognise her flags.

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