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Terry Collett Mar 2018
The morning scene from the balcony
of the flats is before you, the sky light
blue, washed out, dim clouds. You see

kids playing on the pram sheds, in the
Square, skip-rope or football or riding
bikes too big for them. Down below,

Lydia, comes out of her parents' flat
and stands on the red tile doorstep and
peers out. You call down to her and she

looks up. You ask if she wants to go see
steam trains at London Bridge. She says
yes and comes up the stairs. The coal lorry

stops across the way; the coal man gets
down from his cabin. Two boys play cowboys
down by the fence, riding their invisible

horses out of sight. Lydia comes up on to
the balcony. She's dressed in her dull red
dress; her straight hair is brushed unskilfully.

You tell your mother where you are going
and she says ok, but be careful. You walk
with Lydia down the concrete stairs. She

talks of her mother's moans and her father's
talk of overtime and where he's going and
on which train. You reach the ground floor

and walk through the Square, down the *****
and along Rockingham Street. You talk of
the film your old man is taking you to see

on Saturday, some Western film. She talks
of her big sister coming in at an unsociable
hour(her mother's word) and puking most

of the night keeping her awake on and off.
A train steams over the railway bridge noisily.
You walk past the post office and turn right.

Traffic passes by. You show her a pack of
stamps you bought for your stamp collection.
She looks at them disinterestedly.  You walk

past the police station where you once took
a pigeon that had a damaged wing trapped
in cardboard box. You wonder what happened

to it as you walk past. The policeman stared at
you then the box and smiled at you an innocent child.
Terry Collett Feb 2018
She stopped at a passage
of a page she'd been reading.
You know what aphelion is?

I looked out at the coal wharf
over the way. No idea, I said,
thinking maybe a villain of
some kind. She drew her
finger across the page.

Means the furthest point
in a planet's...she hesitated,
in a planet's orbit from
the sun, she said, turning
to gaze at me. What's the
book? I asked, looking away
from the coal wharf, looking
at her with her straight brown
hair and deep brown eyes.

I borrowed it from the school
library, she said, about science.

I looked at the book's cover
with planet's, plants and two
pictures of animals. She said
about her big sister puking
in the night into a bucket.

She closed the book and
placed it on the grass.

I wondered about a planet
and its orbit, but the image
of sister puking came to mind
pushed the planet away,
and whatever the scientist
had to say.
Terry Collett Sep 2017
Anne stuck her tongue out at
the back of the departing nun.
A third degree on her bad behaviour
with the other kids at the nursing

home and her attitude with other
nuns had been noted. The stump
of her amputated leg throbbed;
her absent toes itched. The nun

crossed the lawn and disappeared
into the home. The Kid walked over
to where she sat in her wheelchair
and sat beside her. What did the

penguin want? He said. She's had
complaints about me, Anne replied,
the sick prats have grassed. He gazed
at the leg stump where she'd pulled

up her red skirt. Looks redder than
usual, he said. Have your eyeful, Kid,
she said moaningly. Have you showed

Sister Paul? He said. I wouldn't show her
my backside if it was on fire, she replied,
pulling down her skirt. Push me out
to the beach, Kid, I need sea air, she said.
O.k., he said, and pushed her wheelchair

along the avenue of trees to the back
gate and out by beach and sea. Breath
in the air, Kid; this is it; the wildness of
the sea and the wind blowing free.
A girl and boy in seaside nursing home 1958
Terry Collett Sep 2017
Lydia's father was up early
he was on an early shift.

Lydia got up and drifted
into the sitting room
where he sitting at the table
eating toast and sipping his tea.

Up early Princess
couldn't you sleep?

Gloria's got most of the bed
and she throws her arms out
when she's sleeping,
Lydia said.

Her father looked at her:
what are you upto today?  

Might go out with Benny.

Where you going?

Lydia shrugged:
don't know depends
on where we decide.

Her father smiled:
quite a couple aren't you.

Might go to Victoria train station
see the steam trains,
she said.

Mind the roads,
he said.

We'll probably go by bus
if Mum'll let me have the fare,
she said.

He raised his eyebrows:
good luck with that Princess;
more chance of getting blood
out of a stone.

He finished his tea
and toast and left.

She sat there gazing
at his empty all cup
all alone.
Kids in London 1958
Terry Collett Aug 2017
Shush shush
the steam train
started up.

Lydia and Benny
watched as the last
few passengers
jumped aboard
the train.

The guard
waved a green flag

When shall we go
to the seaside?
she asked.

When we get
enough money
he said.

How much
do we need?
she said.

Don't know
I'll ask at the ticket office
he said.

So they walked
back up
the platform
passed the ticket collector
who had let them
on to the platform
to watch the trains.

Benny went
to the ticket office.

A man with glasses
looked at him

How much
does it cost
for two kids
to go to South End?

The man looked at him
then looked at a book.

Lydia stood
behind Benny.

The man told
Benny the fare
and Benny said
thank you.

They walked  
back on to the platform
to watch
the next train come in.

He told Lydia
the amount
of money needed
for the fare.

It'll take us ages
to get that money
she said.

Guess it will
he said.

she repeated.

Want a glass of milk
and a biscuit
he said.

she said.

So they walked
to a small cafe
on the railway station
and had milk and biscuit
Terry Collett Jul 2017
Lydia and I
were sitting on the grass
at the side
of Banks House.

We were
playing Snap.

She was wearing
an old dress
which had seen
better days
and grey socks
which were
once white.

A big row
this morning
she said.

What about?
I asked.

Well Dad
came home
late again last night
drunk and was singing
at the top of his voice
some Irish song
and Mum was not pleased.

Anyway it started again
this morning and ended
with Mum throwing
cups and saucers at him
and him ducking
trying to reason with her
but once she off on one
you can't reason with her
so I came out
Lydia said.

Sounds exciting
I said.

Well it wasn't
she said
don't your parents
ever row?

Now and then
I said.

Lydia bellowed.

I looked
at the cards.

I wasn't looking
I said.

Well you should have been
she said.

We started again.

Will we row
like that?
she asked.

I said.

If we get married
she said.

We're only 9 and 10  
I said
bit early to ask
that question.

She kept putting
her cards down quick.

But if we did?
she said.

Guess not
I said.

When in fact
it never entered
my boyhood head.
Terry Collett Jul 2017
He would say
when he got in
from work:
how's the dog
and kids?

Did you get
my cigarettes
and did Joe ring
about the horses?

Then he'd sit down
in his armchair,
sweat seeping
into the chair back,
and say:
get us a beer.

You'd get him
a beer and flick
off the top.

He'd down it
with that horrible
slurping sound,
and he'd turn on
the TV box
and sit staring at it.

The dog bit
the postman
and the kids
have played up
something bad
you'd say.

He'd laugh
at the TV,
some programme
he liked
and say nothing
about the dog
or kids.

Just slurp the beer
and burp and laugh.

You at the stove
getting the dinner;
and you could have
stood there naked
and he wouldn't
have turned a hair.

You wish
it had been
Max you went with
instead of him.

But Max
was too quiet
and was careful
with his dough
and said ***
was only
for after marriage
and he only wanted
the two kids
a boy and girl.

But no
you went
and married
this ****
and married
merry hell.
Terry Collett Jul 2017
She was a red head
wearing a red dress
smoking a cigarette
sipping her coffee.

You were
sitting beside her
black suit
blue shirt
black tie
holding a cigarette
between fingers.

I think he suspects
she said.

Suspects what?
You said.

That I'm seeing
someone else.

You took a drag
on the smoke
does he suspect who?
You said.

Not yet
but he will fish
and get to find out.

She inhaled smoke
and looked at the guy
behind the counter
serving another man
along the bar.

Let him fish
I don't give a ****
you said.

Maybe we should
go off together
she said.

Go where?
You said.

as long as it's
away from him
she said
to look at you.

I ain't going
no where
you said
if you want
to leave the ****
come to my place
he won't find you there
and if he does
he'll have me
to see him off.

She looked away
and inhaled smoke again.

He has a temper
and a gun
she said
exhaling smoke
as she spoke.

Up to you Honey
take it or leave it
I don't run no place
you said.

The jukebox
started up
some Elvis guy singing.

She sat silent
moodily gazing
at her mug of coffee.

I'll see how he goes
she said
can't leave just yet
see you tomorrow

you said
you bet.
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