Howard Firkin
(a Bicentennial portrait)
Give us again our daily piece of toast;
the missus blowing kisses from the door
like bubbles. Darling Clementine. Before
we married she was beautiful almost,
and I was three parts lethargy, one trust.
A nation of small dreams, we only build
occasional weekenders in the air
and can’t fly, can’t spend any weekends there,
but prune the roses, keep the snails and slugs killed,
work slo-mo overtime to earn a crust.

Let’s sort of celebrate with foreign tall
ships skulking through our ports. Each triple mast
with men aloft, a Calvary of small
time crims: the captives of a penal past.