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Tom Kelly

The Jobs


I had twenty-one days annual leave,

‘Statutory holidays’,

Christmas and Easter included.

Finish at five, 

‘Do not leave a minute early’,

regardless of hours I worked

last night or day before

when the Foreman wanted something

only available in Bristol

for God’s sake.

The plant was closed down,

the MD head butted into the office

wanting to know why.

My explanation to the Foreman

repeated with more expletives

spinning up to the blameless roof

where pigeon shit fell

on all the verbiage,

a perfect riposte.

Gloriously New


The house fresh with memories

eaten time and time again.

Sunday nights, dark at five.

No escape route. Gut flickering.

Street lights funnel to tarmac

struggle, stop dead.

Do you have any answers?

His address tattooed on my heart and

thin life: suet pies and cheap peas

sozzled in vinegar and aiming for taste.

See him light on his feet,

running for something: anything to save him.

I allow myself to forget,

make everything gloriously new.

Hope Street to brand new council house


where light no longer growls from a gas mantle,

electricity makes everything easy.

No-one lives above or below us,

shuffling across floors, crying out in the middle of the night.

I am ignorant, not able to do anything.

Everything annoys. Worries.

Switching on the radio,

loud Bakelite clicks of music

for anyone but me.

I cannot recall one conversation.

Words glued to the roof of my mouth.

Blanket wrapped around a bony frame,

Giacometti, I have yet to see.

This is the beginning I do not want.

Tom Kelly © 2023

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