We were cutting the holly tree down to size,
Lopping the branches and scything off leaves
That pricked our fingers, poked our nest-stuffed eaves,
When you turned up, years early, struck like me
At how these thorn-pierced, berry-sprayed
Eighteen months of pagan shade
Had turned into three sacks of green debris.
Still whistling, on your way to lay a ghost,
You came and went on bursts of Classic Soul
In jeans and snake-belt, holly buttonhole.
Already now your bead of rain and blood
Had drained into these 50’s snaps
Of us in pint-sized Pac-a-Macs
With grins bathed in the pier’s pink neon flood.
Made holes in pockets, slipped through plastic chairs,
Held down the eyes of corpses in nightmares;
And so I wish you silver, things that ring,
Half crowns and shillings, chrome milk bars,
Old fruit machines to shake the stars
And the bright torrential sixpences they fling.