Old Moley-man, three coats, two waistcoats,
jumpers, vests - layered back to a museum
of skin, festering, bagged up in ruined corduroy,
his boots, one grey, one brown, both soles
curled under dirt-scarred, nomad’s toes –
he dances in the park. With eyes closed,
struts his stuff and promenades,
a waltz, a quickstep, cuts some rug
and rock ‘n’ rolls, his jive and twist
compelling flies like semibreves around his head -
his stench tolls through the wooded square.
He stumbles, stops, dry as a broken bottle,
soul drained, a desert of old dreams,
new sorrows, sits on a bench, his breath
a toxic smog, waiting as the sun demists the view.
He rests, forlorn as torn up letters
fretting on the breeze. Passers-by tune out
when he thunders godless hymns,
his mouth a caved in hovel,
humming, whistling when he can’t remember words.
He’s entertaining strangers for odd coins
rolled downwind to the ragged cockle of his hat.
There’s no applause.
If you have any comments on this poem, Lesley Quayle
would be pleased to hear from you.