Poems

Published on April 8th, 2021 | by Andy Green

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‘Last Bus Home’ by Andy Green

Warrington Bus Station, November 1984.

Sitting at the back
of the 329 at 11.10
Wondering when the man would start his engine.
I was tired, bored and cold
Couldn’t wait to hit the road
But the last bus home at times seemed never-ending.
 
I was bound for Burtonwood
A trip too far to make on foot
Even in my new Adidas trainers,
So to get from A to B
It was a fair of 60p
And six miles in the company of strangers.
 
First to board the bus
With a stumble and a cuss
Was a lady in a 1940s time-warp:
A one-time GI bride
Who spent her nights kaylied
To ease the pain of having lost her consort.
 
It was 1984
and the poppy that she wore
Was more than just a tribute to an old flame;
It was a memorial in part
To her own begotten heart
That had perished with her husband on that airplane.
 
Ever since that day
She had struggled with the way
A black cloud always came down in the evening,
So by the time it got to eight
She’d be there at Market Gate
Trying to recapture long-lost feelings.
 
‘Boots Corner’ was the spot
She would meet him on the dot,
Her stocking seams drawn on with black eyeliner,
And though the outfit that she wore
had been a curtain weeks before
Nobody at that meeting point looked finer.
 
The way she felt inside
when he gazed into her eyes
And told her that he’d worship her forever
Was akin to being told
She would have and she would hold
Her soldier boy until the twelfth of never.
 
But life can be so cruel:
The twelfth of never came too soon
And now her weekday nights were dull and painful.
Instead of cuddles after tea
It was ice cubes in her G&T
And drunken nights in the snug of the Lower Angel.
 
Last orders at the bar
Meant time to say ‘ta-ra’
To the kindred folk she sat and chewed the fat with,
But as she ventured home
The Pelican on his rooftop throne
Watched her as she sobbed for souls departed.
 
To witness her despair
in the chilly Autumn air
Was too much for the Pelican to handle.
So he sent the message out:
‘Trinity Church, don’t hang about:
Ring your bell and light for her a candle’.
 
The striking of the bell
Served its purpose well:
She composed herself and continued to the station 
Where she stepped onto the bus
A little unsteady underfoot,
And opened up to me like a lost relation.

The story that she told
Repeated here in prose,
Taught me precious lessons nice and early:
Appreciate what’s yours:
Covert peace, question war
And when the going’s good enjoy the journey


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