By John E. Marks
The old pub on the corner lost beneath a motorway junction;
Stands in a similitude of snow now. Its windows are gone the way
Of the church spire from whence the müezzin calls a different faithful to prayer.
The bronze statue of an eminent Victorian child abuser
Glowers over what was once his property, his factory, his people.
There is wet snow in the air.
My nose smells the cold which crawls inside my coat like seeping water;
My shoes are beginning to let in, so I try to hurry for the bus shelter
Where an old lady sits neatly, handbag clutched, terrified
Of this new world order
She smiles shyly in my direction then quickly lowers her head
She probably wishes I was a woman, and will soon be dead.
Some teenagers on the opposite side of Regent Road roar and rap
Fall against plate glass windows protected by noisy metal shutters
No police to be seen.
On scraps of common land kids from the flats kick a football repeatedly.
Silent JCBs squat like dinosaurs inside their metal cages,
Their grunting and tearing of the earth finished for the day
Tons of mush and rubbish is piled up against the walls of derelict buildings
Shielding the entrance to underworld garages for the rich.
Parking spaces blossom with Mercs outside the 24/7 booze stores.
The dealers are about.
A girdle of neon outside these bastions of the money economy
There are no political posters sprouting from no crumbling walls~
Some large plastic poppies remain scattered randomly on waste land
But the people who once lived here are long gone or dead.
There are no monuments to those
Who turned the wheels of Cottonopolis for so-many years
Even their graveyards are blighted
Here we have public squalor and private despair squatting down together for the duration.
There’s no going back.
The S’s and the K’s are at each others’ throats again
Drugs, prostitution, extortion, you name it
Nobody notices the dreary weather – the Kosovans are not here for that
They worship in the temple of the BMWs
Which nose forward like suspicious dogs;
Sniffing out what’s really always there:
A line of poison in the damp, black air.
A ferociously unfocused lack of gentility
Bio: John E. Marks is a married father of five grown up children. He lost a child to meningitis. He has been writing poetry all his life and four chapbooks of his have been published, the most recent being ‘Shadows and Dust’, Amazon, 2017. He has four grandchildren who he loves dearly. He is interested in history: especially the history of Byzantium, the Armenian genocide (1915-22) and the Ezedi people of northern Iraq (subject to a genocidal attack by Daesh in August 2014 for the crime of not being Muslim), He also enjoys walking his dog, snooker, detective stories and cricket. He is English. His wife is Irish.