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Second Wind
Watching Tom Mix

Second Wind

dad's football team

Under guttering stars
and moon lost in clouds
like the only working headlight
on the Co-op delivery van,
emerald bonnet and silver radiator
now passing them,
run five figures.
Left-back, goalie, centre-half,
inside-right, winger.
The ice fogs breath, crackles under studs,
shatters in the white blaze of puddles
as strides pound eastwards
down the tarmac road
known locally as the 'straight mile'.
My father's village team out training
February 1956
for a cup match at the weekend.
Hurtling down empty roads
between black fields.
Shouts like stray passes
bouncing off trees and clouds.

The same road ten years later.
A grey morris minor hitting sixty.
Door panels shudder and shake
as an unhealthy engine complains.
We're testing the brakes
we've spent all morning repairing.
At least that's what dad says as we
shoot down the straight mile grinning.
I lean my six-year old face
out the window until my eyes run.
I gulp and gulp in the cold air
Like a pike pulled out of water.
The dust and haze of harvest fields
spins away in the in the chrome side mirror.

Shouts ring in my ear.
Remember to pace yourself.
Keep a second wind.
If you’re one down
don’t argue
go back and score one against them.

I breathe deeply and thread the words together.
I pull one back.

The net bulges.


Watching Tom Mix

Tom Mix film poster

An emerald coal truck
splashes past two people outside a cinema.
Inside fingers in the dark
push past buttons, slip through lace.
Rustlers on the edge of a small town.

White light, seats slap upright,
her shoes found, outside on the step,
wind picks at stray hairs, lifts his tie.

They are not my grandparents
but this cinema did open in 1927.
A photograph proves it.
This is a fiction, a lie.
Figures pasted in.
One breath and the store-front
collapses around Buster Keaton's head.

The truth is
they still deliver coal
from Mr.Sutton's flatbed trucks
and my grandmother still
laughs at silents.

I'm digging for something
like a prospector in a mine.
Something like dust or water,
shining in the twin beams
with meaning, honesty and life.

Between last frame, glare and houselights
I stare into blackness.

This is the pause between the
happy ending and the final real
common line…
' Goodnight dynamite'

As thunder rolls around the hills.


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