The Manchester Review
John Redmond
Four Poems
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Listen, Battlers, It’s All A Big Mission

Yes, it was “Henry! River! Three o’clock!” and “Village,
Ollie! Village!” There were bulging eyes
across the tumble drier. — “My blood is
purer than yours!” — From lane-end to lane-end
they left a black stream, — “Hail to the Chief
of the Church Walk Challenge!” — as typewritten notes
swept over the freezer. — “Please! The kitchen
is for everyone!” — And lounging in cloisters
they floated with clouds, — “I want to teach
computers to sing …” — in lava-lamp slices
they let their eyes swim, — “Yes, I really am
a rocket-scientist.” — and over the ‘untrue’
table they boomed: “I can do sunflowers better
than Mother Nature!” They sauntered in

before the lecture (with spots of river going
nowhere on their skin) to admit:
“You could feel the middle-class shutters
crashing down …” They memorised everybody’s
middle name, they stared along the Broad
with the enhanced peripheral vision of
little brothers. They ploughed into railings. They
sank to the floor. — “Go on. Take my Queen.
See if I care!” — They sang “I am a C!” They
sang “I am a C!” — They bothered little pubs
on Sunday to admonish beef-and-ale pie,
“I don’t really want to be a man of the world.”
They thought about marriage — “It’s the way
forward!” — They flung Mario out of his car,
captured three red mushrooms, and began
to strangle Eddie Jordan in the Rose and Crown. —
“Did you think that I was made of Teflon?” —

It was “Pick a window!” oh yes, and “Piss
up a rope!” It was “Chaps and chapesses.”
It was “Skip the coffee!” and “Why you mock me?”
and it was halfway through The Deer Hunter
when the voices went: “Is that Robert deNiro?” —
“Isn’t this a one-way street?” — “It is! It is!
That’s Robert de Niro!” — “The only thing he’s
good at is pulling … ” — Isn’t everything?”—
“… and he mings at that ….” They sang “I am a C-H!”
They sang “I am a C-H!” They promised to be done
by summer, autumn, Christmas of next year,
they fled the chip-shop for a tactical chunder, —
“Listen, battlers, it’s all a big mission …” — they
sped to the traffic-light bop in lincoln green, —
“Give the nodders to Jazzy!” — they quit
the all-night poker to chase the morning joggers, —
“Early risers, up the arse!” — they weaved, — “Go back
to your Sheffield slums!”— they revived, — “Imagine
I have two envelopes …” — they went for a flying

ankle-job. — “Get the fat bald bastard! Don’t let him
get away with it!” — Yes, Henry, they carolled,
“I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N …!” Yes, Ollie,
they mused, “Do they still remember the war
in Vietnam?” For it was ‘Henry’, yes, it was
‘Ollie’, oh yes, and it was ‘Village’ — “Oh no,
it’s not The Real World, no …” — “… and I have
C-H-R-I-S-T in my H-E-A-R-T ...”— “But it is
a real world” — “ “One envelope contains
twice as much as the other, right? I hand you
an envelope. I say that it contains five pounds.” —
“… and I will L-I-V-E-E-T-E-R-N-A-L-L-Y!” —
“So. Do you want to swap?”