From the pen of our resident poet and literary critic Robert Cochrane, here's the first in a series of poems from his imprint The Bad Press.
WINTERS AT THE YORK HOTEL
For William 17-06-1915 - 04- 02 -1985
to those with longer memories
was a spoilt boy gone wrong,
a raggedy andy,
prince of the hedgerows, alcoholic.
Homeless for decades since a squandered inheritance,
an apple gone sour in his dead parent's eyes,
a cadger supreme
stinking of meths in a stained overcoat,
his cap kneaded like dough
should the request require piety.
'The York Hotel' he'd quip if quizzed
of where he spent his night.
When my mother pointed out
that 1920's remnant of derelict grandeur
I couldn't comprehend
how he made the the fifteen miles from the coast
to beg a breakfast from her,
learnt it was his code for sleeping with
the sows in the miller's sty.
They kept him warm and probably alive
on many a frosty night.
Once in dire need of drink
he downed the acid from a recently drained battery.
The mechanic's distress heard
the doctor's resigned admission
'I'm sure he's drank worse'
and he had, and he did,
and would do so again.
He got God in the end, and a council house
before God got round to him.
Gave what testament he could recall
from a life once grace itself
though fallen from with none.
Became almost respectable
bar the occasional lapse,
like stealing and eating raw mince
from our outdoor pantry,
old habits of pilfering still strong.
Mum banned him after that
which both knew amounted to a scolding
and a few days exile.
- Robert Cochrane
Published via The Bad Press in his 2016 collection: Colly McGurk & My Interest In Girls
Copies £10 plus £2.50 p&p.