There’s an outbreak of poetry around Christmas. I love it. We’ve a special evening in the Village Hall in Liddington with carol singers from Bristol University followed by festive poems, and then there’s Santa (bless his Wiltshire accent!) It’s always a sell-out and I highly recommend it.
In the weeks leading up to the event I rehearse poems with local children and between us we put on a good show. We finish with a tribute poem to one of the locals and sometimes it’s flattering. You can’t beat a ritual.
This year three men, David, Chris and Norman are the focus with a poem called “Three Men in a Pub.” They’re stalwarts at the Village Inn, sitting in a corner by the bar. They watch the coming and going and comment drily or raucously to each other or quietly to anyone who joins in. Every pub has this coterie and the poem is a tribute to them:
They sit on bar stools like high court judges
their sphere an arc across a country inn.
They smile and nod as people come by,
hoovering the imagery. Let the evening begin.
These men are an oil painting, benign locals
of disparate ages, disparate flues
who stack comments like betting slips,
bits of wonder about others, about the derring-do.
Look who’s here tonight. Bloody hell.
She looks well in that dress. Tip top.
Their views on hem and plunge are muted:
And your man’s jumper – must be from a charity shop.
They are the conscience of the community,
expect high standards, their concerns
particular yet often universal. A politician
would do well to buy a round, be a listener.
The punters come and go, speed up like galaxies
cantering around the North Star.
I wonder is this the epicentre of our universe,
three men holding up a country bar?
The Big Bang could’ve started in a place like this
detonated by the spark of a pithy comment
on a tongue with a sharp edge, honed by
the guffaws of laughter, the darkness rent.
And what of the corollary, when the universe implodes?
It has to end so why not implode right here
with the music down low, the voices off stage and
three men in a bar ruminating over a beer.
First published in Swindon Link