There’ll be hard rain coming,
thick, quick walls of it within the hour.
There’s a swell ready to drop with water
that’s been waiting for weeks, and it will be hard.
We’ve just had it too good this summer, the dad says
as we stop off at the red corner shop because milk needs to be got.
These days it’s a barber’s and a bar and lounge as well as the shop.
I’ve got enough of a hairstyle as it is, and if I go in for one now
my dad will have four and we can’t be half-cut for dinner,
so just the milk it is. Out I hop and across the way
there’s another bar that doubles as a funeral home,
the black and white paint doing the job
for a place where you’d get a pint plus a prayer,
no travel required for your troubles, we’ve it all built in.
Two birds, one stone, tombstones,
I could go on but people are there right now, sweating out bullets
through eased up dotted ties and undarkened black suits,
leaning on the windows, dragging the Lord
baby Jesus and all the saints out of a pack
of Silk Cut Blue arguing how people are related to the dead.
I go in and get the milk with the very best date
and join the queue of three and there’s a man
in front of me in blue jeans battered near seamless
and real black shoes gripping the life out of a bottle of
Blossom Hill that’s slipping away from him altogether,
his hand shaking not with nerves or excitement
but with one of two possible problems. He grunts, he pays in pennies,
he leaves, and smiles wide walking out the door.
I didn’t notice until I got back outside that the sky had given up waiting
and the rain had been let loose, direct and down, straight, solid, strong,
but the mourners were still stood outside, finishing their fags, staring across,
straight, solid, strong, determined to drag it out to the very last.