• makeswordswork

In Leeds

Updated: Jun 13




It was the best of times…

because my mother’s suffering ended

and I was born…

……in Leeds.


It was the worst of times…

because sugar was rationed and there were no sweets…

……in Leeds.


A hot summer… and a bitter winter

with ice on the windows…

undressing under the eiderdown…

and…


Women still scoured their steps

and hung their washing across the road…

……in Leeds.


Upstairs, on the green and mellow

West Riding bus…

travelling to school with the choleric workers…

…the colliers and the smokers

coughing and spitting phlegm into

smog-stained handkerchiefs…

……going to Leeds.


Through Hunslet, back-to-backs

in rigid rows,

heading for the Quarry Hill bus station…

Those flats… Stalin inspired reticulation

in dour cement


Off the bus…

to race past the market…

Where the Rabbi holds the chicken and prays

whilst the knife shines beneath the light bulb.


Crossing The Headrow

and up to Merrion Street.

No time to gawp at the model kits

in the shop window.

Woodhouse Lane next.


Then school… and I’m

……in Leeds…


Lunchtime…

Off to the Bowling Green

on Woodhouse Moor.

Two pence to hire the woods.

Watch them drift across the green…

towards the little, white jack…

and I’m

……still in Leeds.


It smells…

in Leeds.

Sulphur and coal smog corrupting lungs

Blow your nose on your handkerchief

makes it filthy, like the collar

on your shirt

……in Leeds.


The days of short trousers,

long socks and frozen knees.

Standing out as softies

amongst the rough kids…

They’re bullies by choice…

We’re victims by necessity

I go home bruised,

……from Leeds.


Town Hall Concert.

Julie Felix in a black dress,

turns to her guitar

her hips exposed beneath the material.

I am no longer innocent.

Women become…

desirable


……in Leeds.


Top deck of the bus

to school…

front seat.

Rothwell… by St John the Evangelist

he lies there… on a blanket

smashed by the green and mellow

West Riding bus


……coming from Leeds


Death happens in Leeds.


Death seen for the first time…

aged 13.

Knees fail to work

crying over the unknown man,

there on the blanket.

white-faced

silent and still…


Does that road still bend

by St John the Evangelist?

Are there still the two half-timbered houses

by the Rothwell junction?

Can you still hone skills

on the crown-green,

for 2d a session?


Probably not…

Leeds is clean… now.

The Hunslet steel works?

Gone!

Quarry Hill flats?

Gone!

All now glass and sparkling modernity?


……In Leeds.


Is there still muck on the civic walls?

Do the girls look different still?

Can you have the best fish and chips

At Youngman’s?

three-layers of service the higher you climb.

Taking Susie to the Grand to see The Master Builder

Olivier mesmerises.


……In Leeds


What do I expect?

Years pass and memories change

made elsewhere…


No longer that child…

his carapace shed long ago…


……In Leeds.



Written by JOHN COGAN


Artwork '6-page graphic short story' by SAM HALL

25 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All