Festival Moment


Miles of polystyrene beakers

carpet a cow-smelling field.

Kangaroo meat’s up for grabs

in tubs that are clumsily sealed.


It tastes the way a sofa would.

To sit on its aftereffect

I swig from a barrel of vinegary cider,

wipe my neck and suspect


I’m drunk, as I trample on cups with a girl

in fraying, bedraggled attire,

Sharon, then an Irish name,

a blonde and endless pyre


of words that drift in husky cloudlets

and crackle and snap and describe

a fellow whose trousers she’d long ago change

and whose brandy she’d sometimes imbibe.


Often she’d sit and write for him,

often she’d coat his back

with creams and lotions, so his flesh

might not so freely crack.


They’d chuckle together about how he fastened

wristwatches around toilet rolls

and planted flags of various nations

in profiteroles.


There were things in her life that young Sharon had done

and I’d not dream to do,

like childhood joyriding, for one,

and sleeping with Dutchmen, for two,


that she never discussed with the wrinkle-faced gent,

though she mentioned the time that some fool

derived great amusement from hurling her pet cat

into a swimming pool.


Sharon had booted the bitch in both kneecaps

and promptly lost all of her friends,

apart from me. So, now we slouch

through cups and cigarette ends,


past teddy-boys on stilts and reach

a lake of mud-splashed wigwams

where symbol-cheeked and longhaired souls

meander around in their jimjams,


and we climb through the flap of a witch’s-hat tent

where poets come to squawk

and hippies clap and laugh and stroke

their lentilly beards that fork.


An upstart who brands all the hippies pathetic,

a green anarchist, he claims,

declares that he’s far beyond metre and rhyming

and suchlike irrelevant games.


Sharon smiles, reclining, dabs

of fag-ash on her breasts,

lost in a forest of words about redwoods.

The drug she’s bought infests


and I relax, concluding it could

only have been rolled,

as she lies there and ponders the fellow she once

would protect from the promenade’s cold.


She’d soak up stories of khaki and beige

and respond with a dogged enquiry

and now and then, when left perplexed,

she’d scribble them down in her diary.


Once, deep in a jungle that was

malaria-sodden and mighty,

he’d caught a frisky crocodile,

then dragged him back to Blighty.


With marbles for eyeballs he hung on the wall

inside a polished case,

above all the ladles and runcible spoons,

beside a purple face.


Another bard steps up and jabs

at all points round the compass.

He growls of pinstriped price-brained men

who treated him like fungus


and tells us, “I’m reminded once more,

you are not my people,”

he tells us with a power and

a disregard that’s lethal.


Sharon drifts asleep and on

the grass she dreams a while

about her favourite ornament,

her stuffed crocodile.










© Gammon 2020
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no comments or critique sought.
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