His home town had glory
holes poked through its park’s
bog walls. Outside, a granny in a
tartan coat rummaged bins and fed
club-footed pigeons for hours. Old fridges
and sofas loitered the streets. Newsagents sold single
fags to kids, and mags in paper bags to solitary characters
in macs. Gangs hung round betting shops and cafes where
tattooed men rated tabloid tits and rolled smokes one-handed
while playing fruit machines all day. Their wives waited for pay
back home on bleak estates, and their skinhead kids kicked their
way from glue-sniffing playgrounds to giro nights in pubs and strip
club bars, setting light to joy-ride cars in wasteland on the edge of town.
One side of his childhood was the sea – brown, sometimes green, never blue –
where jobless men fished for nothing and drunken couples fucked at night.
By day, lonely nutters wandered the prom, mumbling the hours away,
while bad-tempered tourists scoffed ice-creams from the rusting pier
to the games arcade and back again, in drizzling summer rain.
The stone beach was clogged with gobs of tar, used needles
and dead crabs. Hunched on outflow pipes, thin gulls
eyed the dog shit and windblown litter, or scavenged
scraps of fish and chips. Crowding the seafront,
single star hotels and paint-peeled B&Bs
announced in rows of faded signs:
Sea View, Zanzibar, Atlantic Breeze.
Underneath, always, ‘vacancies’.
Craig Dobson’s had work in Agenda, Antiphon, Butcher’s Dog, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Interpreter’s House, The London Magazine, Magma, Neon, New Welsh Review, The North, Orbis, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, Prole, Stand, The Rialto and Under The Radar.