Sunday, May 11, 2008

Belfast notebook

A series of haiku written in the course of a visit to Belfast. They are intended to catch my thoughts and reactions at the time and don't reflect my considered views.

Safety announcement:
Bend forwards, head down, and then
Kiss your arse goodbye

The plane, like a queen
Moves fast and straight above the
Chequerboard of fields

From above, the clouds
Look clean and new, like Earth
When freshly fashioned

The cold bus station
At night, empty of buses:
Travellers marooned

Turning a corner
I find an angry mural:
Still fighting a war

Midnight, midweek, still
The air thick with strong liquor
They're hard drinkers here

Dressed up like a Gothic church
Knowledge is worshipped

Larkin liked it here
But he liked Leicester and Hull
So can't be trusted

A loner zig-zags
Talking as he walks along
Lost in mobile chat

An accent suited
To rapid escalation
To extreme anger

Peace's four horsemen:
Building work, English firms, wealth,
Global chains, have come

The place has Troubles:
The past not an anodyne
Distant narrative

The departure board
Makes it seem halfway between
London and Dublin

Faces pinched and pale
Vitamin C hasn't yet
Arrived in Ulster

Happy to talk to
Anybody, anywhere
Or just to themselves

They still make things here
New factories not just shops
How old fashioned is that?

Coffee house culture
Brings the cafe tables out
Into the drizzle

Government buildings
Old, squat, proud and resentful
Fight irrelevance

The street map shows no
Boundaries between beliefs
Just names from headlines

Big Issue sellers
Are a commonplace, alas:
They're no big issue

The city drivers
Are always slow to signal
Quick to sound their horns

The delay is due
To the road improvement works
Thanks for not minding

I'm doubly foreign
English, from Wales: a tourist
Fresh from overseas

However modern
Airports always have concealed
Tacky old corners

A hen party shrieks
Dressed in custom-made T shirts
Ready for wild times

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