Poor Boy


under a northern sky
south of the river
south of the wall

the up
the down line –
straight forward pairing
under a wreath of steam
(like a virgin’s white dress)
that dissipates into air
into diesel rush
tracing the Tyne –
put your ear to the tracks
feel the buzz
east, west, east
Newcastle to Carlisle
and back again
and from the north
the wind crosses the line –
feel how cold it blows
while stationary holds
the station
in its word –
that momentary pause
when movement
subsides sweetly
rests a few beats
then picks up again
while rovers, rangers, strangers
cross the iron fretwork stile
over the trains –
steep stairs
over all the years
wear down heels

under a northern sky
follow the river
follow the wall

five line staves of
laid down layers of
camouflage –
your strings
six straight lines
you re-defined
to make a northern flow,
straight strings
strange strings –
put my ear to the track
and forget the rest
(piano counterpoint
jazzy sax
the ladies mocking) –
less than a minute in
you try to hide –
years later I still
pick out only you
under every layer, line –
your fingers print
on the strings
that vibrate
retune the season
autumn in springtime
poor boy
on track
for never growing older

station and singer
station and song
slow grown obscurity
slow grown fame

under a northern sky
narrate the river
narrate the wall

Joan Lennon

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