Five poems by Giles Osborne:

Dad and Daughter

I sat against the wall
listening to the young things,
the parties at university,
the drink and all the gossip
so humming-busy,
and I felt dull inert,
part of life’s jetsam.
poked in a corner,
ashamed to talk.
Eight years later,
the tables turned,
I active, my daughter
not so much
I exposed her
‘We can’t all get up
at two p.m. you know.’
She looked at me
with hate,
a fox at bay.

Love at Euston

Buttoned top and short pink skirt,
she sits in Euston, legs asprawl
the trundling cameras focus on her.
Her thighs invite to darkness,
her face pouts, no niceness here.
A polished crown in pin stripe
bends to talk - a fallen halo -
at once she sets in motion,
through doors to Barnby Street
and then to Polygon Road
or even Oakley Square.
Halo seems in her tow.
He'll not be back today,
though Tina moisted and buttoned
will soon resume her sprawl.


Who asked you to our Devon camp
that Tuesday when the rain came down
and bellied down the canvas of the tent?
We cuddled into bags and read
our books, but your soft glowing,
fanned fierce flames inside,
blotting my eyes
so all I saw was you.
Or active, scrambling cliffs,
or spotting crayfish in the pools,
it was you I cradled warm inside
for outside was just nothing

Yet in a month,
with mates and beer
I found that you were

Mr Henderson

'You will not listen to smut,
you will not mention dirty things
you will not touch dirty things
by this I mean every one of you.'
The bush-jacketed boys in the gym
did not shuffle a sandal.
The ginger moustache
kept spitting out threats.

'Mr. Henderson is gone,
he's left the school for ever.
You must not think of him,
or ever say his name again.'

I wanted to protest,
to rattle my feet
on the hymnbook cupboard
shout Henderson.

I remembered how he'd come,
Put-putting up the drive
on the Francis Barnett,
boys clinging on like flies.

I could see his tartan shirt,
his curling hairy chest,
the crease of his smile
and the crunch of his shake.

Later he set up tent
behind our dormitory
and lucky boys went round
for tea and buns.

Now this! Gone,
Gone in disgrace,
not even goodbye,
just me to speak for him.

'Mr Henderson' is also the subject of a short story

The Johnnies say Goodbye to Ibiza

Down El Strato del Mars
three burly, Little Englanders
wave hands above their heads.
They mayn’t have beaten
Germany, sneaked into
All the hottest Clubs,
or even pulled
that gorgeous blonde,
but they are with their mates,
the beer’s been good
and Brits are just the champions.

Three days later,
Tearing at their trousers,
scabs peeling off their face
they’re queuing for the ferry.

‘We showed them who was boss’
they shout from the cattle-truck,
'You can't beat a Brit’,
they croak from the bilges.....
‘The Brits don't need a johnny'
says Johnny being violently sick.

5 more poems

Giles Osborne was born in Kenya and educated at Cambridge University. An early-retired teacher of English, he lives in Handsworth, Birmingham, in the English West Midlands. He is a leading member of the Cannon Poets group who meet in workshop mode every month at the Midlands Art Centre in Birmingham.

All writings on this page © Giles Osborne 1999

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