The New Slip Inn / The Pub With No Beer

Walking home past the village church, I'm drawn
to the lamplit window in the cottage
opposite, the old blacksmith's — before that
a pub: The New Slip Inn. (How come, this far
from a waterway?) The interior
is bedecked with memorabilia
that materialise, hammer and tongs
in the glow from a fire, wooden bellows
pumping the vision into life. Then it
cools, but somehow softens. It has the feel
of something dimly remembered, windows
opened in an old calendar. I lean
in to put right one of the slipped horseshoes
that has spilled its luck, making the world turn

upside down, I've passed through a cupboard door
and walked out onto a bleached verandah,
not that of my own childhood but to where
another family has assembled
for a shot outside The Pub with No Beer —
except the father has a glass of it.
He rests his forearms on the railing while
his son twists awkwardly bored, and mother
stands back in her sunnies. You — on the edge
of your new beauty — smile to camera,
a little white dog between your bare feet.
You're already telling me that the song's
what this is all about: Old Billy, a
blacksmith; how and when the warrigals called.

Paul Munden (UK)

The Bulmer Murder cover
Paul's book The Bulmer Murder will be published in April 2017 by Recent Work Press.

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