I witnessed her open up that coffin-shaped box
buried deep within her heart
and let all of that shit and misery out
in one Gigantic flood of despair.
Briefly compose herself with shudders and tears
then suck strength, bravery and self-esteem
back up into its spring-cleaned place.
As frail and fragile as she was in stature,
I shook my head in admiration and respect
for I was now in the presence of a Warrior Soul.
© Paul Tristram 2014
Old Swansea Town
Another late afternoon and early evening in Abertawe.
The prison stands on Oystermouth Road
like broken teeth in the front of a scowling mouth.
Cobbled, Constitutional Hill, almost vertical
and an adventure playground for the drunks
trying to climb home to womanless rented rooms
with chip-fat gloom and out of date library books.
‘Scrubbers Laundromat’ at the bottom
where I used to bum cigarettes off the working girls
brave enough to face the South Wales winds
in short sleeved tops and mini skirts
back when I was seventeen years old and lost myself.
The Battlegrounds of The Kingsway every Friday
and Saturday night, my God, I’ve seen it all
a dozen times or more upon that lit up stretch of madness.
Carlton Terrace, where I once lived in an attic,
Dai and Pie’s Tattoos up on top of the cold High Street,
The Quadrant and cockles from the indoor Market,
Castle Gardens the way they were before the concrete.
She lives and breathes aloud, that ‘Hard As Nails’ Town
and cwtches her battered head into the arm and shoulder
of the ‘impossible to drink in one go’ Mumbles Mile
as the Pier reaches out across the water, forever.
© Paul Tristram 2015
The Pissed Misanthropist
He had the Christian name of a Bible Baptist,
was one of the two Tramps living in our Town.
When he was younger he was on his way
to becoming a professional football player
but instead, had some sort of devastating breakdown
and could not seem to ever fight his way back.
The ‘Men In White Coats’ would lock him up
every few months or so and you wouldn’t really
notice the disappearance until he returned.
Then, all of a sudden, there he would be in the park
in the middle of the afternoon on Giro Day
with 10 Regal King Size, a flagon of Strongbow
and a cheap plastic football, drunkenly foot-shuffling.
You rarely heard him talk, Tourette a bit only,
he’d just kick that ball across to any kid passing
hoping that they would kick it back and fore with him.
People always said he was mad (I’m still on the fence
with this one?) for sleeping rough down The Melyn,
what with all the crime, drugs and gang activity
but we all looked out for him, we slapped these two
Port Talbot boys around once when we caught them
hitting him with sticks as he slept on a wooden bench.
I use to find it fascinating to watch him ‘hunting’
he would wait a few doors down from the chip shop
for teenagers to come out with their meals open
and steaming salt and vinegar into the Winter air,
then he’d barge straight into them with a “Sorry!”
then walk around the block to return and pick it all up
off the dirty pavement like a King eating venison.
Every Saturday, he’d go up to Woolworths in Town
and take a football out of the basket in the middle
of the shop and start kicking it up and down the aisles.
While they were throwing him out 5 minutes later,
the glue sniffers would be loading up their pockets
with solvents and freezer bags…an unknowing decoy.
I saw him walk into a café on Windsor Road one morning
with a raw half chicken in his hand, no wrapping
just the chicken and beg the owner to cook it, claiming
“I only want the bad half of it you can sell the rest?”
We were all playing the Space Invader machines
after a night of magic mushroom madness and shouting
“Cook the bloody thing for him, mun, c’mon!”
The Park Keeper of Victoria Gardens came up to us
laughing another morning and told us that he’d opened
the Public Toilets at 6am and by 7am they had to call
the Fire Brigade because Matey had staggered in there
drunk and got his cock stuck in the drain grating
in the middle of the floor, he claimed that he was pissing
in the urinal and staggered backwards four steps,
pissing over himself and turned around while falling,
Wham…Stuck…they had to cut him out of there.
I only ever spoke more than two words to him once
and that was the evening before I went to prison
for the first time, I was sat in a warm laundrette
with a girlfriend drinking cider when in he came
out of the rain, he looked cagey at first but then asked
“Who’s ‘Top of the Pops’ this week, then?”
and offered us both a cigarette which we refused
(I remember it well, they were long, thin ‘More’
liquorice cigarettes, women used to smoke them!)
I gave him half of one of my flagons of cider
and talk soon turned ‘round to prison, he said
“You’ll be alright boy, I can tell, just take no shit
off of no one. They’ve got a TV and a pool table
in the ‘Young Offenders Unit’ happy days!
The biggest problem you’ll have is that you’re locked
up 24/7 with other people, it’s enough to drive you nuts
if your not nuts already, God forgive me but I hate
other people and the more of them the worse it gets!”
Anyway, I was alright and a few years later I Gypsied
away on my Travels but I was back there a couple
of years ago and he came up in the pub conversation.
Some of the people had clubbed together and bought
him a wooden garden shed and stuck it on the marsh
down by the side of Neath River away from people.
He was happy living there alone for a few months
until Guy Fawkes Night came around and some idiot
school kids went down there and burnt it to the ground
whilst he was drunkenly and peacefully sleeping inside.
© Paul Tristram 2015
Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight, this too may pass, yet.
You can read his poems and stories here! http://paultristram.blogspot.co.uk/