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Corporation Street.

And two more poems


Corporation Street

WHEN I THINK of work, I think of windows:
the steamed-up panes of flatulent Manchester buses
and the metal-framed ones of a building built on a bomb site

near where Mill Hill runs down to the Irwell,
where brokers first banked on the power of the mill race,
where Mayhew whistle-blew and where Marx met Engels;

of the Spiderman swoop from those sills with papery pot plants
onto flat puddled roofs with enigmas of vents,
trapdoors and cables; and of the shuddering concrete stairs

or ratchety lift going down with an armful of files
to the basement warren of eight-foot filing cabinets
reached by ladders and step-stools, thousands and thousands

of numbered policies, each a biography of mishap,
exemption and excess, the total enough to half-fill a microchip
the size of a nail paring; and I think of the fate

of Longridge House itself: bomb-shattered in peacetime,
flattened, and over that basement the Manchester Eye,
its ballast of credit-card backpackers and office workers floating
in risk-assessed circles, still turning the corporate wheels.

Pantoum Superkings

ONCE IN A blue moon – once or twice
a knottiness ratchets to fever pitch.
You’ve only smoked one or two in your life
but you know your body: its shifty tricks.

A knottiness ratchets to fever pitch.
Your nerves on end, you count to ten.
You know your body: its shifty tricks.
You’ve smoked two or three, but never again.

Your nerves on end, you count to ten.
You wouldn’t quite say you’re a jumpy wreck
after two or three, but then again.
Oh, here’s a tenner – what the heck.

You wouldn’t quite say you’re a jumpy wreck:
you were never an addict (give me a light).
It’s only a tenner – what the heck.
You’re body’s a temple, just not tonight.

You’re in control – were never an addict.
You’ve only smoked four or five in your life.
A dozen or so. Well OK, a packet
once in a blue moon. Once or twice.



JUNE 2016 WAS the last time you flirted:
nosed up alleys, sniffed round churches
and admired the way a place could unfold
beaches at every turn. Trapani’s blue bay
sweeping to ramparts could have been
St Ives, almost – but was hot. Hot.
Your calves fried as they brushed stone
which back home was by nature cold,
but there had baked six months a year
for millennia.
Down on the gritty strand
which did for one more beach you watched
four generations, shoulder to shoulder,
thigh to bronze thigh between coolbox food,
clutter, chatter, glitter.
Trailing home, mercury sank like the end
of an affair. Under prison-blanket grey
you regrouped, grounded. Islanded.

West Yorkshire-based Julia Deakin is a keen walker, birder and ice skater. She has read on Poetry Please, edits Pennine Platform and has won a few prizes – none of them for skating.

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