Tuesday 22 March 2011

Sestina Day 10: Beer and Spirits

Today's keywords are from Helen Mort, a fabulous poet and lovely person.
Three cool things about Helen:
1) She's from Sheffield.
2) She writes poems about ghosts and her surname means 'death'.
3) She has an ace whippet called Bell.

This sestina is inspired by Helen's collection of poetry 'A Pint For The Ghost'.

The job was new to me, learning from scratch
The names of all the ales, but then, I'm bright.
Each customer I welcomed through the door
And learned their names as well, in time, which pleased
The regulars, who always stopped to speak
To me as I was polishing each glass

After my shift I'd stay and have a glass
Or two of lager, listen to the scratch-
y Jukebox, stop to hear the locals speak
At first, it's true, I thought they weren't too bright
But when I got to know them, I was pleased
They told me tales of hauntings. I adore

Such legends, and I'd often lock the door
At closing time and, sipping from my glass
write down the stories which had really pleased
me in the empty pub. Sometimes a scratch
Or rustle made me jump, but I was bright
Enough to sit quite still and never speak.

I'd hear these disembodied voices speak
And feel a draught as if the bolted door
was swinging open. Then I'd see a bright
And eerie light which formed around my glass.
As if a ghostly hand wanted to scratch
A message on the bar. It wasn't pleased

The presence I could feel, it was displeased
Some evenings it would condescend to speak
and say, “This rat's piss isn't up to scratch
It's got no soul, I'd chuck it out the door
Pour us some stout, I'll have it in a glass
That's got a handle. I can see you're bright

Enough, my lass, to know when it gets bright
And full in here, us ghosts are never pleased
But in the quiet moments, the odd glass
Of porter is a lifeline, so to speak.
So when you sense my presence, near the door,
Pour me whichever ale is up to scratch.”

I keep aside a glass, polished and bright
You never hear him scratch: these days he's pleased
Perhaps we'll hear him speak, he's by the door.

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