No Visible Scars
apologies for bad language.
Lonely Guy’s eyes blazed
as he skimmed pebbles at the
carcass of the pleasure pier
where he used to stroll each evening
with Mum, Dad, and Scooter
their ancient obese pet retriever.
The crowd jollied along to Blaze Away
as ‘The Happy Wanderers’ closed their
nightly ‘Seaside Special’ pierrot show,
without the slightest clue
that a casually flicked dog end
was devouring the whole place
turning it into skeletal charcoal.
Few made it out of the theatre.
Scooter was too fat to swim to shore.
Lonely Guy scanned the waves all winter,
“Scooter. Here boy! Where are you? Scooter!!”
I offered Lonely a cigarette.
He shrugged and helped himself to two.
We sat sheltering and smoked.
He poked my arm and confided,
“I’ve got scars where no one can see them.”
The paint-flaked decaying tram stop hinted at vintage days –
Victorian values – from before the rot of rust set in.
Lonely Guy picked at a kiss curl of paint,
crumbling it between his finger tips.
“Lazy bastard council workmen,
skimping on the undercoat –
and check out the piss poor primer.
Rust never sleeps.
I backed a horse with that name,
Rust Never Sleeps.
It was a winner, as I remember…”
He jabbed his fisted cig at the lights
of the dormant town supine below,
“… Look, look at the playground,
the paddling pool’s choked
with plastic bags and dog shit.
Glass splinters in the grass
slash children’s feet to bits.
The sand pit’s a nest of dirty needles.
The swing seats are broken – the chains are rusted,
and the Crazy Putting windmill’s bust.”
My fingers traced the grooving of “Shaz 4 Gazz”
– with a tenderly scratched love heart –
engraved on a wooden bench strut.
From a hotel verandah
a string quartet played Brahms,
“I love classical it soothes me …”
A passing Vauxhall Victor blasted
Lonely Guy shook my hand, “Cheers for the fag,”
stood to go and casually flicked the dog end away.
“So, where are you living these days?”
He eyed me warily,
“What’s it to you? I get it. You’re Old Bill. Ain’t you?”
I shook my head – he half believed me,
“I’m squatting a derry down Desolation Row.”
“The abandoned beach huts?”
“That’s them. Just me and rats for company.”
“It’s been nice chatting. Hope to see you again.”
You haven’t seen me!
You don’t know me.
You’ve never seen me!
Nobody sees me.
I’m invisible to the naked eye!
One lousy fag, a bit of chat
and you think you’re so much
better than me.
I’ve got scars that nobody sees.
You know what? Fuck you,
Christopher fucking Columbo.
Fuck your fags.
Fuck this town.
Fuck the lot of you.”
Lonely Guy looked over the stark water
and waved towards the blackened skeleton
of the desolate pier.
“The old man’s calling me over,
I’ve got to take him a beer.”