Bootle Raining


The moon tucks up its skirts and hides its face,
runs hard above a ground war far below;
the smoking fronts of charging westerns race
out the Atlantic waste and calmly throw
their weight along the shore in wild light:
even the docks look rugged in the glow;
how safe to be in bed on such a night!

The wind is clawing at the sill and sash,
big chested as a boxer fighting hard,
the plant pot falling with a thunder crash
in smithereens, has camouflaged the yard;
a bin is banging at the alley gate,
the sagging roof has given up its guard
and casts to heaven every careless slate.

The bad air leaps to punch the panelled eaves
moans in the pane and skits above the ground
along the iron pipes it ducks and weaves
and Kelly woken by the frantic sound;
frightened that evil elements are loose,
(the room is upside down and moving round)
gathers her duvet tighter than a noose.

A taxi sluices up and stops outside:
The drum-drum of the engine, dropping fares
- the neighbours have returned - her walls are pied
with arc lit beams - she pillow caps her ears
against the slip slop as the wipers sweep;
and slowly noise, irritants and cares
sink in a shrouded settlement of sleep.

Withdrawing from the wind swift weary night
the ranging cat has found the sheltering shed;
the yellow sulphur of the corner light
swims on a roof of slate and leaking lead,
a creaking sign protests for trade in vain
and where the “Vicky” bolts and goes to bed
a woeful queen is weeping in the rain.

By Dick Hayes