Suave and debonair
on the hallway mirror’s viewpoint.
Brylcreem-slick, that wayward quiff
has aspirations – think Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis.
Weathered jaw line, razor-tame, Old Spiced.
Laundered shirt, worn
open-necked with the signature cravat,
always paisley, burgundy on gold.
Daddy’s girl, my angle’s blind
to a thinning crown, the comb-over;
a weak heart under peacock swagger – and
you’re taller, somehow, out of overalls
in slacks with knife-edge creases down
to spit and polish; hands in pockets
weighing small change possibilities.
You shrug your shoulders
into a houndstooth blazer, square
the broken checks of green and cream;
leather buttons left undone, token casual.
My formative years in toughened hands:
our lifelines grafted, till you learn the art of letting go.
20 Park Drive
Not a classy street address
but those budget smokes he switched
from cardboard box to nickel case
on Thursday nights. He’d posture
at the bar, cash-rich, effusive,
handing round his pay day fags.
By Monday, he’d be hard up, down
to dog end roll-ups from those saffron strands
recycled in a Rizla by his nicotine fingers.
He kicked the habit, in between
the crafty puffs at work, his sly ones
en route to the library, the corner shop,
returning on a cloud of Extra Strong
that barely masked his tell-tale breath.
The tittle-tattle matches dropped him in it.
Jukebox pumped for hits, I plump for oldies,
inhale the bar fug, wheedle seats for two;
take in the sepia stains on anaglypta walls that reek
of Snug and Ladies’ Lounge and matriarchs in hairnets
eking out their milk stout halves behind etched screens.
Elbows on the glass-ringed counter, proud,
you claim your patch, avoid the spilt beer; light up
an uncensored cigarette, relish its nicotine rush;
order cola, a pint of Best and a whisky chaser.
Easy company: the daughter on a flying visit, father
plied with refills till he’s whisky-winged.
Oiled, you sing On the Street Where You Live
for all the world as if you’re Vic Damone,
I have often walked on this street before
but the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before.
Heading south, I tune to pirate radio, drown out
all that stereo babble from the fledged nest.
Jayne Stanton, originally from Lincolnshire, now lives, works and writes in Leicestershire. Her poems are published in various print magazines and e-zines. She blogs at jaynestantonpoetry.wordpress.com and @stantonjayne is her window on the world of poetry (where she intermittently tweets from its sill). She has written several poems about her late father (natty dresser, secret smoker, crooner, grafter), including those published here, in her pamphlet, Beyond the Tune (Soundswrite Press: 2014).