The fifth of November, I remember dark nights
Of frost, bitter cold, biting winds, clad in
Winter’s warm woolens with fur-booted feet.
Into pitch blackness, a wide gulp of my heaven,
The aroma so sweetly inhaled as we stride
With the moon as our constant companion.
Rockets and wheels spinning and whizzing, while
Heaped pyramid fires rise higher, great pyres
Of wood and Guys we all made, with faces
And arms and legs, so real, sat atop the tip
Stuffed with straw and old papers, last week’s news
Up in flames, and we stare as we bite
Into our blood-red toffee apples clutched tightly
In mitten-less hands, and with quivering fingers
We sip on steamy, hot, oxtail soup. Excellent!
Smoke-filled Bonfire Night with its snapping
And crackling and “Oohs” and “Aahs” that expel mists,
Floating mists, of icy cold air into night’s lighted sky.
Staring into pure night’s nothingness
I am the only attendant in this static world
Even as a weighty arm bears down clumsily
Claiming its place across my stiffened torso
In the stillness the restless wind rattles and stirs
Accompanying the hollow, soundless space
With its sporadic howls and whistles
Unnerving the shaken, flimsy window screens
And drumming rhythms on fragile panes
Into a tempo of mesmerizing melody
Immersing me in a yawning, restful slumber
While enticing the hidden, hushed, neglected
Thoughts once entombed in the brazen light
Let loose to conviction under hypnotizing darkness
And clandestine revelations are finally at liberty
To throw off the white veil of day’s deceiving hours
Sincerity surfaces exposed to torment and candor
Fabrications find no welcome in night’s shadowy murk
The wail of the wind laments sadness and sorrows
Laid bare in the dark shroud is my solemn truth.
Top Deck, Friday Nights
Seizing the cold, metal pole flanked by folding doors
That snap back fast and beckon us as he brakes
We leap up the single steep step in our high-heeled stilettos
Out of breath, giggly, and silly and showy
Dropping our loud, clanking silver in the waiting slot
And snatching tickets as they churn out the noisy, red box.
The good-looking driver throws a wink and a grin
Unlike the few straitlaced, po-faced passengers below
Teetotalers, night-shifters, glaring in unanimous annoyance
So we make a swift, mad dash up the winding, narrow staircase
Holding fast as the double-decker picks up speed
And finally falling hard on the seat in an ungainly heap.
Laughing and panting, resembling a tossed pile of laundry
Bearing floundering legs, we sit barely upright
Becoming part of the upstairs crowd, rowdy and wild
As they chant and they cheer and they hoot and they holler
And in silence at the back some exhale sailing smoky circles
Which we deeply and delightfully and dizzily inhale.
Like clockwork, the same swarm piles on Friday’s last bus
Done with dancing and drinking until dark’s early hours
So young and adrift in this English inner-city
Where up top we belong at the unruly after-party
Among drunkards and cursing and fighting and spewing
Rebellious and clueless, we make our way home.