Poem of the North

Fifty years of the Northern Poetry Library

From Canto 5

North 50

Just before moving east along Elswick Road towards the town,
I recall Barney’s pie shop and sitting on top of a drier in the coin-
operated launderette, my plastic banjo with its laughing mouth
doubling as the sound-hole: everything was in tune back then,
even the thinnest string sang its song. When winter takes hold
look past the ice inside the windows, trace petals with your finger,
point to the sky, never fall silent. Always remember to bleach
the front step, she said, because more walk past than ever come in.

For each of us held in the brine of north, is held as bone, as bird,
a direction – yes, but beyond dial and trajectory, it is our home;

a score in the darkness, fifty throats thrown open to the sky.

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