Examples of Work
alarm-bell-body-language on the boardwalk
hand gestures shouting “this is not my fault”
I’m not sure if they know it yet, but this place
is just perfect for a true romantic break up
these are the bitter phases
the mouth ulcers
that change speech slightly
the fleck of lemon
pulp in the tongue
the snake-paths of coal
the new tide will leave
A New Guide to Seaton Carew
Mark Robinson – 1999
Look at this café. It is open.
The sign outside says so, though it is smirking
when it says it, and leaning back on its heels
pretending it is Jean Gabin, hiding away
in grainy sea-fretted days.
If this place had a hat, it would be pulled
low over the forehead. It would be
black, and greasy on the inside.
Look at these coins. They fall from light
with a clatter like hooves on a street
a hundred years ago, like rocks feeling it
as they slowly turn to sand,
they want the darkness of a pocket,
but are thrust back into the waterfall
of small change that recycles itself,
always just one more to make everything
tumble, endlessly, endlessly, endlessly.
Look at this rain. The Nichols Family
have the Latest British and American Amusements,
but we have the rain, cake walking
down the prom in high dudgeon,
hissing gossip into the doorways
of shops that may not open next summer.
This rain has the disordered personality
of a man who talks to strangers at bus stops.
It is wholly innocent, but frightening.
It may never stop.
Look at this dog. It runs along the beach
in a frenzy of matted hair, mongrel bitch
of the Café Royal and the Golf Course.
The sea is trying to catch it, to pull it in,
but it can’t reach. If it could reach a dog,
could it bear to forgo the town?
The sea is endlessly disappointed
with its position and its place.
Look at this clock. And these bus stops.
And the toilets. The white deco curves
lean into another time, another place.
It was made out of love, like the Taj Mahal,
and it remains out of stubbornness.
It will not give up being beautiful,
just to satisfy our pitiful expectations.
Go away and be happy it whispers in your ear
as you stride urgently towards the toilets.
Look at the man waiting for his bus,
a single grey scratch against the stone,
like something someone forgot to pick up
when their bus arrived, late again.
This is not a place you can wait only
for a bus back to Hartlepool.
To the south, where the landscape
turns alien to provide for us,
where earth is more metal than dirt,
and lights pattern themselves
through and beyond abstraction,
the wrong switch flicked in tiredness
could blacken the land, and welcome the sea.
This man is not worrying about that.
He wants to know where his bus is.
He thinks he is still waiting for a bus.