Friday, 20 March 2009

WALK ON, TOM BEWICK

Stride Circus Lane
and chip your signature
on the pavement of scrapes and kisses.
Pass the Forth
and skirt
its pleasure gardens;
throw your darts in the archery field.
Skim the bowling green
and walk on water,
doff your hat to Mrs Waldie;
cut along
old scars of lanes
to the bloody gush of Westgate Street;
whistle with birds
in a vicar’s garden,
let warm thoughts fly in Tyneside sun
to bless this Geordie day.
And greet
the morning hours,
Aunt Blackett and Gilbert Gray,
sing to free the world,
the Black Boy;
harmonise your mind
in a churchyard of melancholy.
Dance over the Lort Burn,
the sun in your eyes,
flooding your workshop
with a light fantastic.
Your shoulders so proud
rub with the building girls
and lady barbers
along Sandhill;
the boats of your dreams
bridge the aching Tyne,
ships groaning
in the tender daylight,
longing for the healing moon;
a keelman’s fantasies
of quayside flesh
and the seething sea.
You trip along
searching for electricity and magnetism
in the inns,
winging it
with the bird catchers and canary breeders,
the dirty colliers and the harping whalers.
Walk on Tom,
execute
a portrait
of a hanging man;
let your strong heart
swell with the complex passion
of common folk.

KEITH ARMSTRONG

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