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featured poet, June English

June English photo


Pipe Lines

Thirteen Roosevelt Road –
there was something about that house –
from the moment you stepped inside,
hungry for the steak pie, baking
in the black-leaded Kitchener; breathed
in lavender polish rising from lino floors,
that, when mingled with Old Holborn puffed
from Dad’s pipe, spelt home.
Look, that’s him, sitting in his velvet armchair
puffing his pipe. He’s chanced his usual Saturday
half-crown on the ‘donkeys,’ a five race accumulator –
and the first three have won. That’s me and our Jim,
sitting on the edge of the settee, yelling,
Come on, Homeward Bound. Come on …
eyes glued to the fourteen-inch telly
watching every black and white movement,
screaming our hearts out, yelling He’s gonna do
it Dad. Look he’s up front –
You’ve won Dad, You’ve won,
and him shouting, Four down. One to go –
don’t count yer bloody chickens, wait
fer ’em to hatch.
Sixty-five pounds he won.
New shirts and frocks all round –
what a knees-up we had! Sofa and chairs
pushed to the walls, carpet up. Grandad,
strumming his banjo, Mum on the piano.
Awful how it all slides away, dissolves
into Dad’s empty pipe, set down
on the hearth of a house
he never saw…

June English

first published in Agenda