Ken Champion



Usherettes


Some serve in a churchlike Athens Odeon, an act of observance

and Greek dubbing, others in Sao Paulo’s Una Banco pimping

ice cream while waiters tout margaritas, and a Tangier picture

palace where the audience shouts look behind you! to the hero


comfort refugees in a shell-pocked art house in Beirut, watch

contraband movies in an Art Deco theater amongst Havana

palms, fight off the manager of a Roxy in Taiwan.


They’ve heard the roar of light hit the screen, ping of a bra

strap from the back row, watched a lit match passed like

an Olympic flame across red velvet seats, cigarette smoke

floating into bas-reliefs and chevrons; torch beams gliding

over carpets they are ciphers guiding us into the lit city,

the mansion, bedrooms, bars.


There’s one now, next to my aisle seat, raised knee flicking

off a shoe, leaning back on the curtained wall, unlit torch

idly hanging, the world at 24 frames a second in her eyes.



Street Games


Flinging the ball at the pennies - tanners if you’re flush -

on the paving slab against the end house wall, and mum

shouting down the street for your tea, and you run past


the parlour to the kitchen, stir the washing in the boiler

with the bleached broom handle while she salts greens,

squeal of fork inside a saucepan, hand brushing a brow;


and you want to run to the park through the sandpit,

round the bandstand, on to the Flats, jump the stream

between houses, lean on a fluted lamppost and sate


yourself on mind flicks of skinny Iris at number two

or the misty silken space inside the thighs of principal

boys your dad takes you to see at Lyceum pantos,


but knowing you’re going out to the coins again

that no-one ever seems to hit.



Ken Champion © 2011

Victorian Whimsy


The picket fence, moss on the cracked

path, faded red door beckoning me in

to a window seat, to look out on the lock


and clip gate, terracotta tiles in the

bricks of the short terrace, the chipped

enamel Bovril past the church finials;


to scrape up the benign moss with

firm hands, to lie in it,

contented, still.



Chimneys


Their London stocks, lipped pots against

a yellow-grey sky, slate roofs, childhood;

as if looking across from the slag heap


to terraced streets, lamplights, Alma Arms -

dad coming out to bribe you with a penny

arrowroot, if you was the only gel in the world


aunts with flappers hair, who’s a pretty boy?

mum’s don’t look, son, as Joan from next door

breastfeeds her baby, the crush on Wendy


from over the road, fear at seeing her

parents kiss because yours don’t, the

Gothic psychiatry, the lost marriages;


and it’s spinning around like a reeling

carousel, my slag heap turning

into a hill of beans.



Ken Champion © 2011