A pint on a Monday – at lunchtime?
Things must be bad – Michael –
And so they are – but I only offer lies
above salted crumbs on my table –
small pieces – but shiftable boulders
to summer’s soon-invigorated ants –
able to heft such burdens of others’
relative insignificance – of leftovers –
But that is a season away – along with
beer-swilling wasps and longer days
of enough light to keep me
from the pub and beer on Monday

Ghost Holes

This bar’s serving hatch is always left agape –
tonight I see it is a varnished picture frame
holding unfair perspectives of the pirouettes
of the not-Degas barmaids in uniform black

In this pub’s cellar are floating phantasma –
I am often told – here under my pint-fixed feet –
below the boards – Orbital corner-of-the-eye
lights are known to cross the cold stones

They are – the old boys also claim –
fixed by the presence of the town’s tunnels –
those mislaid smugglers’ rat runs now
bricked up within the dead-end arches

Other spectres are regulars in the saloon –
they bother the rushed staff and punters
from their precarious stools – a feat in old age –
added up they would predate electricity –

and then they shuffle off – with chains of change –
shifting between the bogs and their tall thrones –
always back on their seat to summon spirits –
from the optics – but not with their pensions

The Pig & Butcher

Friday lunchtime, slumped, re-arrives,
a shuffle of septuagenarians departs
as I place my pint, and my backside,
at a mat-free table in the lounge bar:

Two regulars take on slack scampi,
and one more pint for the road;
the barmaid’s sweet pull is too great,
so they stall, longer, the return to work,

and I sit, supping at the old familiarity,
that which Wetherspoons cannot fake,
also poorly replicated in English Pubs
in New York, and pop-up Asian cities:

You cannot make these spills and stains,
the rough wearing, long-worn by the repeat
of orders, of rounds, of social patterns:
They will never decode this pub’s DNA.