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Ian Duhig - Site Specific Poem

Well Versed is edited by JODY PORTER

Site Specific Poem
Ian Duhig

As straight as Hell's were all the roads the Roman legions laid
and straight enough the tarry network Blind Jack Metcalf made;
he made a way from my house down through Chapeltown to Leeds
where blind as Jack on drink or drugs the late-night driver speeds.

O, your rolling English drunkard left the lock-in at his bar,
then staggered through its car park to unlock his English car;
he loved his English city as he loved his English ale
the night he went to Richmond Hill by way of Armley Gaol.

O, your rolling English stoner rolls another as he drives;
he's feeling like he's on Cloud Nine, he thinks he has nine lives;
he's snorted coke, he smoked some crack, which really did the trick
the night he went to Manchester by way of Millgarth nick.

I have a dealer friend called Merve - they call him 'Merve the Swerve',
and no-one takes a lift from him for no-one has the nerve;
we'd tell him, "Move the merchandise in buses, trains or cabs!"
But those that give the Swerve advice are those he often stabs.

That's why you're reading this here, Merve, penned on your toilet wall,
so you will not know who it is upon you'll want to fall;
I love you Bro, but even so, I do not like your knife;
an Englishman might love drugs too while even more his life.

Merve, coppers make you walk straight lines and test your breath and blood;
they'll photograph the skidmarks where you left your English road,
that merry road, that mazy road, unlike the one you'll tread
around Hell's seventh circular forever when you're dead.


Ian Duhig has written six books of poetry, most recently Pandorama (Picador 2010). This September, with artist Philippa Troutman he will be publishing 'Digressions' with Smokestack, a book of art, poetry and prose resulting from their site-specific project based around Shandy Hall.

Well Versed is edited by Jody Porter – [email protected]
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