Melancholy Scenes in a Public House

Leytonstone, London, 24th.August 1984


Are those girls whores, or is it just bad luck

to look so whorish sitting there?

Are the men their pimps who buy them drinks,

ploughing profits back to lighten lunch?


And the girl with her head on the table,

who is she? And what is so upsetting that

her friends ignore her and pretend

she’s had too much, is just not there?


I doubt she’s drunk so early in the day,

but then I’m not the client she just left

who wanted something extra that

a few stiff gins made easier to do.


Perhaps it’s just her boyfriend who’s been nasty

though she bears no marks that show from here

except those mental scars that mark her out

and weigh her down, aslant an alehouse table.


Was this just imagination running wild?

Maybe it’s just the fault of pubs, where

strong drink clouds even simple things

giving depth to emotions unfelt elsewhere,

turning us all inwards and back-to-front

surveyors of inaccessible places.


(Another from an old notebook that I felt was worth rescuing)

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