by Mark Jackson

There was a time when . . .

Coca-Cola cans were crumpled

In November’s gutter light,

When hooded girls made hearts

Through stalled bus windows.

When tall, white hats chopped

Meat for tomorrow’s special –

Hot, cheap, for one day only.

We stood, walked, ran. Simple.

Our compulsive bustling

Found room amongst

Heart-shaped stickers and

Cross-haired steeples against

Lemon-meringue sky and

Chewing gum pavements,

A confectionary of sorts

In this, the city for all weathers.

Callous taxi drivers and

Flirty waitresses kept apace

Between downpours and sunshine,

When seasons of different length

Meant something, when time existed.

Days in search of nothing

But your new wardrobe and

Price tags the only casualty.

Close shaves, clean shirts,

Broken hems, plaid skirts,

Soaked trainers, mushy socks.

Once, twice, three times a week,

Never warm but never cold.

Nights with nuggets plus chips

And whoops, wrong side of town.

Same time next week?

Bitter tongue, filthy jacks –

A pain, the effort, sure work’s

Monday, no chance, can’t.

But actually, who knew?

It’s hot, cheap and

For one day only.

Mark Jackson is currently a second-year creative writing student at University College Dublin, where he is a member of LitSoc. He has had one short story and two poems published in various editions of Caveat Lector. In early 2019, he was shortlisted for the Marian Keyes Young Writer Award and in late 2020, he was awarded Second Prize in the NUI Dr Henry Hutchinson Stewart Literary Scholarship in English.

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