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.

Old copper blacked our fingers, weighed our hands,
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.

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