Four Flagpoles

Four Flagpoles Outside Saint George’s Hall


Got the train to Liverpool; it rained
I made sure that I was suitably
With a camera. I managed to shoot
Queen Victoria – her concrete canopy
Gave shelter from the rain but not from me.

I shot The Beatles and some passers-by
Who happened to be
The wrong place at
The wrong time. But at least

It was musical rain, each note-shaped drop
Embroidered with a twang. Here
In the pub it’s warm and dry
I’m waiting for my dinner to arrive
And watching vintage football on TV

(It’s raining on the screen as well)
A match they played in nineteen-ninety-five.
Old-fashioned hoardings round the pitch
Remind us how much better life would be
With Agfa Film, or Foster’s Beer, or Weetabix.

Four Flagpoles Outside the Velvet Hotel

“Can’t get no time off work” I said, “We’ll
Have to put this interview on hold.” An elegant
Pointed silence filled the air
Until he said “There’s got to be another way;

Perhaps tomorrow night you could pop along
To my hotel. I’m staying at the Velvet – I like
It there, above the door it boasts four flags, not three.
And you know how much that sort of thing
Means to an old sarcophagus like me.”

I arrived after dark
We sat in the bar, and chatted about phase diagrams,
Grain boundaries
And gamma-function overloads. At last

We decided to go up to his room for one last drink
To explore the limits of our orbital compatibility
Quantum emissions allowed us to observe
A gasp of pleasure as they started to converge.


Four Flagpoles Outside the Midland Hotel

 The phase diagram enters the field because
Cultural density has been betrayed
She picks a card at random; but in this world
You know that nothing can be truly left to chance.
Here we have the four of wands – again.

Along the outside walls we see
Celebrated writers, painters, architects;
But now the world has moved along
Four flagpoles point towards tomorrow:
“The future, my boy; don’t worry,
That’s where we now belong!”

A book last read in 1825 is taken down and
Gently pulled apart by expert hands. The antique dust
Is scattered gracefully on agar plates
Where graphene brings the sleeping germs to life.

Dormant ambassadors from a distant past
Start to explore this brave new world, rejoicing
In the miracle that they now occupy
A land of plenty, neither hot nor cold, as if
Designed to help them multiply.

Four flagpoles show us that the hours of the day
Are oddly-spaced and curiously shaped. The shadows drift
Across the microscopic realm where
Dreams decay until there’s nothing left.