UKArchive ID: 36433

''A Coming of Age in Oxford''
Originally published on April 11, 2016 in Poetry        

A true account of my 18th birthday – apologies if has been submitted previously – it’s not on my list so this may be its first time out. ๐Ÿ™‚

โ€œComing of Age in Oxfordโ€

As February gutters
Taking with it
Memories of
Childhood hugs
Schoolboy ambitions
And hope fuelled dreams

And adulthood
I have no wish to enter
But cannot postpone
Lies at the door
To swallow me

I am destitute of property.

Pulitzer prize winners
Future presidents
May later squat
Voiding their bowels
In this underground refuge
Where I lay shivering
Escaping snow
But not the withering cold.

As darkness lifts
I steal away
Blowing into my hands
Rubbing sleep from crusted eyes
Blinking in St Gilesโ€™ dawn

Heading past St Mary Magdalen
Down towards Carfax
After breakfast at the market

The fresh cardboard
Filling the hole
In my sole
Is damp through

My socks are wet too
Rancid from a winterโ€™s wearing

Eighteen today
Arrest means a thumping or jail
So making sure
The law
Patrols the furthest market aisle
I stoop and lift
A food stall’s
Canvas cover corner
Grabbing packets blind
And find
The tarpaulin has birthday gifted
Dates for energy
And bourbon biscuits
To dunk in my tea

I wish I had another tanner
To buy a second cuppa
And half an hour extra of
Market tea stall
Paraffin warm

Around me
Down historic alleys
Daily stream
Aspiring academics
Parading abundant prospects
Their eyes on glittering prizes

They don’t see me

Once I spotted Potter,
My old head prefect
Form 5A
He barely nodded
Looked away.

There is for me
No time nor space for envy
Of the wealthy

Or wondering at the stark beauty
Of winter naked trees shyly budding
Or the serenity of ancient colleges
Swathed in dreaming histories

I scour the ground
Stepping around
Grey grit gutter slush
Seeking a glittering prize
A shining half crown
Two bob bit or
A shilling
That would make this birthday
One worth celebrating.

© (Coolhermit on OLD UKA)

UKArchive ID: 36433
Archived comments for ”A Coming of Age in Oxford”

Gothicman on 12-04-2016
A Coming of Age in Oxford
Another skilled piece of writing, Rick, or at least, for me, a joy to read. Your economic style seems so easy once seen finished, modified and perfected, but I know it's the result of much painstaking work over many hours and revisits, well, at least most times, for spontaneous inspiration captured in one attempt is possible, even while rare!

You continue contributing fine poems, I'll take the abusive flak! Hahaha! It's worth it on reading this one. Into favourites too!

Author’s Reply:

Coolhermit on 12-04-2016
A Coming of Age in Oxford
Thanks – that was about Feb 64 – it was better living on the streets than being at home – all grist to the mill. I had intended to rework another poem for submission but as I ruminate, a whole other character is slouching to Bethlehem ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks again for the much needed and appreciated encouragement.

Author’s Reply:

Andrea on 12-04-2016
A Coming of Age in Oxford

Author’s Reply:
Thanks – a slice of life ๐Ÿ™‚ Tough on the streets – worse at home ๐Ÿ™‚

Andrea on 12-04-2016
A Coming of Age in Oxford
The streets could be better, I agree.

Author’s Reply:
In my case the streets were magical compared with home life – my mother was an exceptional woman – I took exception ๐Ÿ™‚

Coolhermit on 13-04-2016
A Coming of Age in Oxford
I am perpetually baffled by comments – here or private messages – generally choose the wrong 'send' option so to speak. Off now to perform Anushka plus a few others in a rowdy pub – if they won't shut up i'll sing to the blighters – they usually take pity when I fail to hit the high notes of “Pack Up Your Troubles” – I can usually find a punter willing to have a try ๐Ÿ™‚

Author’s Reply:

sweetwater on 13-04-2016
A Coming of Age in Oxford
Wow, fantastic piece of discriptive writing, a real insight into the less exalted Oxford ranks. Sue.

Author’s Reply:
Thanks – that was a bad winter – I ended in Oxford serendipitously – after that Birthday got a job as plongeur at”The Bear” in Woodstock – next to Blenheim Palace – ah but that led to more misfortune right out of dickens or Dan Defoe ๐Ÿ™‚

Andrea on 13-04-2016
A Coming of Age in Oxford
In my case the streets were magical compared with home life – my mother was an exceptional woman – I took exception ๐Ÿ™‚ — I had the archetypal Wicked Stepmother (and she was German, in the 50s, to boot). The stuff of nightmares fairy stories…

Author’s Reply:
my mother was the last shake of rattlesnake's tail ๐Ÿ™‚