Jeffrey Wainwright

2 Poems



From a train, as so often noticed, the backside of the city:

Dead motors, fly-tips, tyre-dumps, unclaimed rubble,

           sunless repair shops, any old iron.

Amid this, its grass surrounds striving to stay spruce,

          the Coverdale Baptist Church, eccentric in Ardwick,

          built to be different in 1970, Ernest Geoffrey Seddon,

          architect, good, careful brick, plentiful glass,

          a merit mark for the Twentieth Century

built to promulgate the ghostly psalms.


How amiable are thy dwellings thou Lord of Hosts!

Yea, the sparrow hath found her an house and the swallow

         a nest where she may lay her young.




Nothing amiable in the end about Fort Ardwick, or Fort

         Beswick, nor any of Hulme’s royal crescents,

         the 70s systems built to solve the problem of the poor.

Their old lavatories down the yard (that fearsome drop), fitful

         gas mantles, cold clinker in the hearth of a morning,

all that needed clearing and how different, how systematic

         all this looked,

pueblos of progress but soon leaking, crumbling,

         so much shoddy.

And the poor were spilt there.


And the systemisers were confounded, regretful that

        the modern had not worked out and said:


God thou knoweth my simpleness, and my faults are not

       hid from thee.

Let not them that trust in thee, O Lord God of Hosts be

      ashamed for my cause …

for thy sake I have suffered reproof; shame hath

     covered my face …


(Now we are trying to do better.)




But Coverdale’s church, the plaque to the Glory of God

          hidden by weed-stalks,

stands undefeated: drums, vocals and bass guitar are lifted up:


Behold how good and joyful a thing it is to dwell together in unity!


A clutter of dressers, beds, settees and chairs, domestic stuff,

         a kettle, pots and pans, occupy the nave,

each re-claimed, fixed up to make a home again.

And reaching with a smile across the kitchen-counter and trestle-tables,

         the true of heart, the cooks and servers,

        the sweepers-up, the gardener tidying the outside

        and in the office-corner the totters-up making the ends meet.


These shall not be defeated.

Not by the girl shooting up into her eyeball,

         not by half-taught plutocrats,

         not by the shit-stained drunk,

         not by the hedge-fund pensionaries,

         not by the battered, not even by the batterer,

         not by all those enjoying their desserts,

         not by she who cannot care,

         not by the comfortable like yours truly,

         not by those who for his own lust doth persecute the poor.


For the poor shall not always be forgotten; the patient

          abiding of the meek shall not perish for ever.



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