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Poems from Francis Kerr Young
Elbow Room


The efternin sun blazes doon the street
as August drowsily smothers July,
a wee daurk pub hints respite frae the heat,
a lure for the unwary passerby.
Oan venturin' in, ane's welcome is fleet,
fleet as a swally o' twelve-year-auld rye.
The door's shinin' yawn draws blinks or cringed glances
frae barflies wha lounge back intae their trances.

Broos beadin' sweat savour that ideal chill
of cauld, cauld air encounterin' waarm skin,
an' oan comes yon thirst, that thirst with the will
tae draw ane's wit frae the mind's discipline
an' render it doon like wort in a still,
handily trouncin' decency's chagrin:
Tedium afloat on stagnatin' day,
a glimpse o' limbo in a' its array.

Banter resumes, patrons chatter an' laugh,
drinkin' in a nocturnal atmosphere,
for Time aye-ways staun's still when barflies quaff
an' chaff, or so it micht seem tae appear.
Misery loves the barfly's epitaph:
Can hope ever cope in a place so drear?
So folk seekin' solace in haze an' gloom
fun' yin anither in a reek-filled room.

The vague "Wha ur you?" Ane's elbows askew,
propped languidly oan the saft padded rail.
"- heard onything new?" "- Ah dinnae hae a clue."
"Honey, wha's aboot anither cauld ale?"
"Whaur's auld whit's-his-name?" "Oh I thocht ye knew,
he wis remanded last week athoot bail!"
"Haw! Did onybody catch that last score?"
In a corner a barfly starts tae snore . . .

Preamble brings forth a weather forecast,
a prophet has predicted heavy rain.
His neighbor perks up, his face a' aghast,
an' mutters a phrase so foul an' profane,
it bottoms oot wi' his liquid repast.
"Oh sweetheart, when ye're ready, same again!"
Ponder yon world oan a hoat summer's day
whaur ice-cauld temptations pool minds o' clay.

Restraints mellow efter folk tak' a drink
for stress seems tae dissipate in ane's chest,
for fantasy forces barflies tae think,
a soberin' contemplation at best!
The buzz o' barflies, the clink-a-chink clink
o' glesses an' boattles comin' tae rest;
crystalline music, transcendent by far,
wi' rhythmic smacks frae deadbeats oan the bar.

Between boattled tiers, successions o' faces
float in a mirror which reflects each soul.
Why, it wonders, dae folk frequent sich places
jist tae babble, or giggle, or cajole?
Here some can hide, or pit oan airs an' graces,
or ponder life like ony other prole.
Spirits corked in dark boattles, ghosts awaitin',
silently hauntin', an' debilitatin'.

A melody tears a portal in Time
unleashin' memories tae clouds o' smoke,
an' minglin' thegether, they meld as grime,
maistly at issue by asthmatic folk.
Tragedy cavortin' wi' pantomime:
Gestures; parodies; the aff-colour joke;
so barflies imbibe for reasons obscure,
soakin' in sadness whilst livers endure.

Cigarettes emulate fireflies in flicht,
while ithers continually hone
burnt shards o' tobacco, an ancient richt,
oan ashtrays declared as ane's very own.
Late efternoon when owerwhelmed by nicht
alloos the day shift tae be owerthrown:
Ashtrays are emptied, spills dichted away,
an' kegs are recharged wi' minor delay.

A wild Winter's wind blaws snow doon yon street
as January rear-ended December.
A neon sign glows DRAUGHT BEER through the sleet,
assuring an evenin' tae remember.
The door's crisp yawn clamps a drunk tae his seat,
kindlin' choice phrases frae a fiery member.
Bit still, it's Ne'erday, anither sad year
o' boredom, gloom, an' unlimited beer.


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