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Text of book

Part Two (continued)


Start of page 51 in the book


Silver Ring and Don McLean


[A tribute to Don McLean's American Pie which I wrote while holding my silver christening ring.]


What is more, the voice or what it sings:
the voice, the tenor male, and the guitar,
or the bright words and sense -
the brightened ring of silver turned from far
within the slender sun-enchanted hand?


A christening ring, a slim and silver ring
from years ago
still bright, still white, still clean
- or Don McLean?


He sings of things more near and far more dear
more near and dear to me than throngs of songs
of singers every day. More dear
more like to tear, more like to draw a tear
than any song of any boy I know.


My wistfully uncomprehending sigh
salutes those words (and their companion chords)
more near, and oh! more dear to me
than words that any boy could sing with hard and silver ring.


You value silver for its constant sheen
just as I value silver Don McLean
just as I value every inch of golden Don McLaine
again, and oh a gain, and what a gain!
So what is more, the voice or what it sings?


Start of page 52 in the book


Our Dustman


He looks an ordinary man,
like any other man he looks,
like any other ordinary man.


But he's unique, and special,
the only one of him there is:
there is no other who is he.


His work is hard, and ugly;
his job is shifting muck -
carrying it, you become it.


And yet he bravely does it;
it wasn't what he hoped -
but he does it for us.


He sees what has to be done
and he does it.
I say hooray.


And also I say God bless you;
and here's your Christmas box -
and now for heaven's sake get out of my sight.


Start of page 53 in the book


Job Application


I am writing to apply
for the position no longer vacant


and enclose a blank sheet
giving details of my career


also glowing testimonials
written about someone else


when you appointed me
you had no better particulars than these


so now I confidently await
my dismissal


Start of page 54 in the book


First Day at Work


Wayne (or it might be Kevin),
a youth straining his trainers
against the scruffy concrete
on the platform at Rayners Lane,
painfully awaits the train.


Disdainful Wayne,
headed willy-nilly for somebody's gain,
only seemingly self-contained
at Rayners Lane,
is undergoing some strain.


cleansing the dull platforms at Rayners Lane,
matches tears rolling down Wayne's cheeks.
I'm a big boy now
Wayne tells himself again.


He's off to face the world
of employment, and has the feeling
no one will want him for long:
for what can he usefully do
having so far rejected every opportunity?


It's a bit late now, Wayne thinks,
to be regretting that glorious bunking off
which gave the illusion of independence.
It's a bit late to realise all the glories you were rejecting
when you thought yourself so clever.