The Manchester Review
Paul Batchelor
Two Poems
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The Messages

With Mam away getting the messages
and Dad flat out on the floor, we sneak upstairs
playing drunk on the dregs of a can of Kestrel
and killing time until the match kicks off on the wireless.
It’s April Fool’s Day, 1984.
We’re fishing for a signal
among police frequencies, pops & static,
ads for fake Axminster carpets,
Morse code from nuclear submarines
and the odd stray bulletin of news from nowhere –
they reckon Mrs So-&-so is up a height
about the rule of the law
that must prevail over the rule of the mob –
though, with the final fixtures now in view,
we’re more concerned about the way our Dad
won’t take us to a match: we’ve all but missed
Peter Beardsley making history,
and by the time we tune in to the crowd –
its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
the distant report of a catastrophe
on a foreign planet we’ll never visit –
the final whistle’s blown. Inachevée.
Downstairs, Dad scratches himself back to life:
Don’t tell us what’s the score, he says.
Don’t tell us what’s the score.