- My first thought is how clean the place is,
how swanky, perhaps that’s the right word.
- This isn’t London or New York that’s for sure,
marble walls that could be made from banoffee pie,
blue and white quadrats for the floor,
patchwork of tiles making up the ceiling.
- Eight hundred rubles for a week, barely a tenner,
Moscow’s take on the Oyster, just cheaper.
- My mate of fifteen years has Henderson on the back,
I’ve come as myself.
- A crew of fans gush out behind us,
- flags made into capes.
- Two own beards, great hedgehog-type beards
taking over, stippled ginger,
another has a drooped trophy slapped on a cheek.
- They are already singing, if you can call it that,
adding that extra syllable, a staple of the patriotic chant,
- The Croatians in their classic tablecloth-type tops,
(Modrić x2 and Mandžukić x1)
look aghast, probably whisper their own version of plonkers.
- Congested, headache already brewing,
needing fresh air before the Mexican wave.
- My first thought
is that the view isn’t actually that bad.
- We’re fairly high up, middle row,
sandwiched between Brian from Bolton
and a foul-mouthed Mike
from Welwyn-Garden-City, I think,
but I’m getting into the spirit,
my mate already shuttlecocking half-xenophobic jibes
across the pitch, a paper aeroplane or two
gliding, colliding into backs of seats.
- Anthem is maudlin, Croatia’s more jaunty,
and then the players are moving like felt-tipped beetles
across the tongue of grass.
- The free-kick goes in after a while,
cheers a chorus of roars
that zip into the cold Russian air.
- Strangers shoulder-shove, voices sandpaper coarse,
that blasted tune ringing out
from the mouths of a raucous English bunch
in many an old Umbro kit
swamped with sweat and blots of beer.
- My mate can’t believe it, he’s got a tenner
on 2-1 to us, a modest bet.
- Mike from Letchworth Garden City
is bellowing out the scorer’s name
each word croakier than the last,
one hand crushing the lions on his chest.
- дополнительное время
- Our first thought is that penalties
are coming up, our foe, our football swine,
but on 109’, the guy from the back
of that earlier guy’s shirt flicks out a limb,
pokes the ball past our keeper.
- Mate goes ballistic, his face
on the brink of full-blown beetroot,
while Brian from Bolton appears mid-coronary,
too whacked to crank out a sigh.
- A bloke to the right, a few rows down
jokingly mentions Hurst.
- This brand of heartbreak we know well.
- Later, surrounded by smokers named Dmitri,
shots of Smirnoff and the dull ache of knowing
four hours back to Heathrow awaits,
we’ll reflect on the could’ve-beens.
- Mid-sloshed in Red Square, more my mate than me,
(he’s a tenner down after all),
mumbling Qatar in four years under our breaths
while Croatians tumble through
this giant cyst of a city.
NOTE: Each second stanza is supposed to be indented from the right hand side of the page. HP has altered the format again.
Explanation: A poem that was part of my MFA Creative Writing manuscript, in which I wrote poems about cities that have staged the Eurovision Song Contest, or taken the name of a song and written my own piece inspired by the title. I have received a mark for this body of work now, so am sharing the poems here.