POEMS: Mark Russell

Faith in the Market

‘Well, that’s just Jim Dandy,’ Otto says when the bank clerk turns down his application for a loan. ‘I was hoping to save my children from the workhouse.’ The clerk at the next desk looks over. ‘In actual fact sir, I’m Jim, and he’s Dandy.’ Otto’s clerk, smiles. ‘It’s a common mistake, Mr Bergson,’ he says. Otto bows his head and is silent for several seconds. ‘All my life I’ve thought Jim Dandy was one person,’ Otto says at last. ‘I’m getting the next train back to my hometown. I’m going to find my parents, my old schoolfriends, Mr Grierson at the tailor’s, Grant and Isaac McAllister, Sherry, Belle, and Nancy, the smaller of the two rag-and-bone men, the manager of the Odeon cinema, the lot of them. I’m going to shake them until they rattle.’ Otto stands to go. ‘I’ve been taken for a fool for the last time,’ he says. The woman in the queue directly behind Otto watches him stomp out into the street, and then shakes her head. ‘You two should be ashamed of yourselves,’ she says.

Antonique, Adopted

It wasn’t long after they found Chester Sampson’s body washed up by the old mine, that we felt we could try to connect again. We didn’t do too much to start. An email, a text. A wave through a car window. Maisie bumped into Errol at the car wash one Friday morning, and it went well. I accidentally sat next to Mr O’Grady in the pictures once, but we didn’t notice until the lights came up, so it wasn’t as awkward as it could have been. Then we began to receive invitations: a candle vigil on the knoll at solstice; a series of food bank deliveries to the elderly; a hog roast for refugees. I don’t know who first suggested it, but late Sunday mornings we now meet for coffee at the Lifeboat café. It has a lovely view over the bay. Everybody brings change for the collection box, and we take it in turns to buy the drinks. Martinez surprised us this week. He brought Antonique. We didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Except Barney, who wept so hard we thought he might shrivel up like a worn out potato.

Mark Russell's poems have appeared recently in Poetry Wales, bath magg, The Rialto and Mercurius.  

Photo by Dan Brekke (Flickr).

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