Old Hand

Old Hand

I saw you on a bus
at the end of a faded giant’s arm
of shovel-like proportionsNavvy
Resting on a shaky plateau
like a Komodo Dragon
Archipelago of liver spots
Fingers like Cuban cigars
Tipped with tarmacadam
Veins networked like Spaghetti Junction –
Possibly you helped to build it?
The shards of your youth and middle age
lie buried near Birmingham’s M6
Your services no longer required
You are a returned navvy; an endangered species.

I am ashamed to look into your rheumy eyes
relentlessly crying rivulets down weathered trenches
I cannot ignore the rumbling volcanoes
that are your lungs;
Perhaps you have an appointment
with some nice young doctor at St. Vincent’s Hospital;
The smokes and booze that dulled the pain for forty years
have ravaged your body.

Might your fourteen-year-old hands have
resembled those of Oscar Wilde
Before his stint in Pentonville and Wandsworth?
Your stint was longer, though you lasted the course
And here you are on a Dublin bus
A miraculous wreck; still breathing
Your hand betrays your past.

Maybe you’ll stop at the bookies
Place a treble on the 16.10 at Fairy House
I hope to God you win
Have a few pints with the lads
And marvel at your good fortune.

Copyright Berni Dwan 2015 – http://www.oldfilibuster.com