@MattAbbottPoet

@MattAbbottPoet
Image © Copyright Amy Charles Media 2014

7 Mar 2016

Pink Vinyl



I'm waiting, outside the Wetherspoon's,
at the bottom of Ecclesall Road.
Romance brews
beside a warmly lit room,
cheap ale, no music,
and the Tuesday night 'Steak Club'.

My new job pays 866 per month.
That leaves 416 after rent and bills,
which abandons me far too quickly:
especially in a new city;
when I'm 24,
and I'm single.

But still, I phoned Mercury Taxis,
dancing to the screech of the tyres:
leaping through the window
'midst a hand-break turn,
racing through Hillsborough
up the hill, towards the Uni,
over the top, past The Harley,
and across the Bramall Lane roundabout.

I urged him to rush:
shared the thrill of spontaneity.
Clutching a glossy white Chanel bag.
One of those jumped-up
cardboard carriers they give you,
which folk never throw away.
Inside was something far more special.

You'd told me how, as a bairn,
you'd sift through your old man's records;
and this one was always your favourite.
You didn't even like the song at first:
you just loved the way it looked.

Not seen it since.
Presumed it was hard to come by.
Yearned for it, for a moment,
toasted with
Strawberry Timmermans.
And now here I am
clutching it's designer disguise.

The glass exterior
renders Wetherspoon's a fish-bowl,
only... as if to magnify my circumstance,
they all gawp out at me.

There's a seated patio,
and I can feel folk watching
from the corners of their eyes:
using me as a marker.

"Was he here when we ordered?
How long ago was it?
Should I say something?
No, not about him... the steak...
it's been 22 minutes..."

Nervous girls arrive for
first dates,
catch my awkward eye,
as I scan like a lighthouse,
and breathe sighs of relief
on spotting dates inside.

Couples come and go,
as I exceed 45 minutes.
3-0 leads have succumbed to
4-3 defeats
in shorter periods.
The soaring high
precedes a crushing blow,
when you realise you'll never go anywhere
with centre halves like these.
Except, you never noticed them,
when you were cruising at 3-0.

We're opposite a roundabout:
connecting the city centre,
Hanover Way,
Waitrose, and Ecclesall Road.
Ecclesall Road leads to
Hunter's Bar,
Sharrow Vale,
Broomhall,
and Nether Edge...

Car after car,
and none of them are yours.
None of them are your taxi,
your lift.
I almost wish that the streets were empty
to stop the flow of faces
taunting foolish hope.

Cars to the left of me,
Steak Club to the right...
here I am,
stuck in the middle,
with 'Cool For Cats' by Squeeze
on pink vinyl,
and,
an exasperated text,
claiming misunderstanding:
with no kisses,
and no apologies.

You're at the other side of town.
You haven't eaten yet.
You're too busy now.
Too busy later.

"No man is an island,
but this woman is."

A huffed sigh slips my phone
into its denim holster.
Instead of a taxi,
I ride home with Davy Crockett:

arrows in my hat,
and pink vinyl clashing with
scarlet cheeks.



3 Mar 2016

Ferrybridge Services


Sat slurping black coffee
in the services,
gone midnight.
You almost kid yourself it's cinematic,
as lorries fly by
in the inside lane:

blurring with the reflections
from rows of seats
in the window.

Premier League highlights
on the plasma in the corner,
probably would've been omitted
from anything cinematic.


Ferrybridge Services,
from the inside, looking out.
You told me how,
when you were younger,
you and your mates
could see this spot;
watching down
from the Warwick estate,
as analogue eyes
sought mischief.

Dialling 999,
reporting bombs,
and then awaiting fleets of patrol cars
to frantically soothe your boredom.


So if this is cinematic,
I guess Shane Meadows might call the shots.
"Sing us some more sink estate sonnets!"
before a lingering frame
on your soya milk latté.

Fiddling with your Dockers,
scowling at the boom mic,
silently rolling a cigarette,
whilst West Bromwich Albion
celebrate in the background.




2 Mar 2016

L20 3BG



The rain beats down
on the windows of the car.
When you're lost, or you're late,
it sounds like chaos.
But when you're just fine,
and you're warm, and you're comfy,
it feels like someone's massaging your scalp
with the tips of their nails
on the tips of their fingers.



Thursday 3rd September.
You called by,
following routine check-up at the hospital,
shortly after 2pm.
I was upstairs.
Lucy answered the door.
Silence.
"Are you alright?" Lucy asked.
Silence.
"Matt, you'd better come down..." Lucy said,
retreating to the kitchen, to the kettle.

And you looked straight at my chest,
with those Irish eyes, and said,
"I've got cancer."

The world slowly imploded
as I took you in my arms,
and we waited
for the click.

We sat and talked:
passing the diagnosis around the room
like a wailing baby,
trying to make sense of it,
and searching
for calm.



Tuesday 13th October.
I called by,
following major surgery at the hospital,
shortly after 2pm.

They call them "Gates" instead of "Wards",
and it does look a bit like an airport.
At least they had the heart
to avoid a "Departure Lounge."

You moved as though you were standing underwater,
and spoke with the croak of a young Alex Turner.
And as you shuffled towards me,
barefoot, in a night gown,
I've never seen anyone
looking quite that strong.

"You alright, Mum?" I said.
And you looked straight at my chest,
with those Irish eyes, and said,
"I'll be fine."



Thursday 10th December.
I called by,
following a Christmas gig in Pudsey,
shortly after 10pm.
We'd to dash via Agbrigg -
I'd forgotten my passport -
and then over the M62,
to the P&O Port at Liverpool.

With my phone drained of battery,
the Sat Nav took us to the wrong end
of the right port,
in complete darkness,
at 2am.
We tried asking a bloke
by a lorry,
but he was a urinating
unilingual Latvian.

A frantic drive around Bootle,
rescued by the girl
in the all night garage.

Terror,
and then tears,
and then panic,
and then relief.



The rain beats down
on the windows of the car.
When you're lost, or you're late,
it sounds like chaos.
But when you're just fine,
and you're warm, and you're comfy,
it feels like someone's massaging your scalp
with the tips of their nails
on the tips of their fingers.


One by one,
the cars filter up the ramp.
The rain gives way
to echoes of engine noise:
waved on by conductors
in hi vis jackets.

They feed us Fish & Chips,
before bidding us good night.
At lights out,
I suck on an IPA,
and try reading Bukowski
by the light
from the fridge.

At this stage,
it just makes me feel tired
and inferior.

Instead,
I sit watching you
drifting off to sleep.
Your purple coat for a duvet.
A pillow from reception.
Peaceful as ever.

When we wake,
we'll be in Dublin,
where Irish eyes
are smiling.