Janice and I
had taken a bus
to London Bridge
(pennies supplied


by my old man)
I showed her
the hospital of St Guys
and on until


we were over the Bridge
and we stood looking over
into the Thames
looks murky


she said
it is
I replied
are there fish


in there?
don't know
wouldn't want
to eat them


if there are
I said
she pulled a face
then straightened


her red beret
with her thin fingers
so that it sat just
at a slight tilt


her fair hair
flowing out
that look all right?
she asked


it looks fine
I said
she wore a pink


flowered dress
and a white cardigan
and had a black
little girl's handbag


(her gran
had bought it
for her birthday
some months before)


where shall
we go now?
she asked
there's a café


my old man
takes me to sometimes
I said
we can go there


they do glasses
of cool lemonade
or cream soda
she smiled


and so I took her there
and we took seats
by the window
(the place was crowded


with adults)
and a waitress
brought us
two glasses


of cream soda
with straws
your father
brings you here?


she said
yes sometimes
when he takes me
to the West End


we go to other cafés
or restaurants
and go to
the fun machine arcade


and that's fun
putting coins
into these machines
some times


we go to the cinema
or just walk
about the sights
I said


Gran says evil people
live up the West End
that certain parts
are akin to Hell


Janice said
I don't about that
I said
we just go


to the safe parts
I guess
we sipped our sodas
she looking around her


at the adults
drinking and eating
and smoking
and laughter hit out


now and then
some guy pinched
a waitress's backside
and she slapped


his hand and laughed
Janice blushed
and looked away
another guy


with a black moustache
looked over at us
giving Janice the eye


an ear to ear grin
we finished
our sodas
and left the café


glad to be out
of there
to be on our way.

View dadio's Full Portfolio


Helen brought
Battered Betty
along with her
as we met


by Burton's the Tailors
she coming up
out of the subway
in that greeny grey dress


with the faded flowers
where we going?
she asked
hugging Betty


close to her
I noticed the doll
had one eye closed
what happened


to Betty's eye?
it got poked out
by little brother
and it only goes in


this way now
so she can't see out
Helen said sadly
I nodded my head


OK I thought
we could go
to Bedlam Park
as it's a nice day


and I’ve brought
some buns
and 1d drinks
so we can have


a sort of picnic
I showed her
the carrier bag
in my left hand


she looked in
and smiled
that'll be good
she said


so we walked
along St George’s Road together
I had my toy 6 shooter
in the holster


around my waist
(just in case
we had a run in
with any bad cowboys)


I would have brought something
Helen said
had I known
could have brought


some potato crisps
or sandwiches
but I like buns
and those 1d drinks


we crossed
by our school
and on into the Park
on by the War Museum


and found a place
on the grass
and sat down
she laying Betty


by her side
we shared the buns
and had a drink each
the morning sun


coming through
the trees above
white clouds passing
sharing our food


and drinks
and our 9 year old love.

View dadio's Full Portfolio


I knocked
on Lydia's front door
and waited
the morning sun


was coming
into the Square
Lydia's old man
opened the door


and stared at me
with bloodshot eyes
what do you want?
he said


is Lydia
coming out?
I asked
who wants to know?


I do
wondered if she'd like
to see the trains


I said
why would she
want to see trains?
he said gruffly


she likes trains
I said
he looked beyond me
at the block of flats behind  


who said
she likes trains?
she did
I said


I work
with fecking trains
all day
she's never said


about trains before
he said
looking at me again
his eyes trying


to focus
we often
go see trains
I said


we went  to Waterloo
train station
the other week
he closed his eyes


his hairy chin
and breathed out
a beery flavour


he bellowed suddenly
I stepped off
the front door step


and stood
gaping at him
he called again


he opened his eyes
and stared at me
I detected life
behind the mask


Lydia came
to the door
and peeped under
her old man's arm


this kid wants to know
if you want go see
fecking trains
he said gently


his voice silky
do you?
she nodded her head


can I?
she asked
he looked at me
as if I’d just


stolen his wallet
he said
steam trains


I said
yes steam trains
she said
we like watching them


he raised his eyebrows
and looked down at her
under his arm
resting on the door jamb


ok ok
if you want go see trains
go see trains
he said


and wandered off
leaving Lydia and me
looking at each other


Waterloo again?
I asked
what about Victoria station?
she said


ok sure
I replied
and she turned


to go get
her shoes inside.

View dadio's Full Portfolio


Ingrid usually wore
the faded grey
flowery dress
that had seen


better days
I saw her crossing
Rockingham Street
I was getting


bread rolls
and she was standing
by the wall
of the flats


red eyes
hair unbrushed
where are you going?
she asked


getting rolls
for breakfast
I said
how comes


you're out here
so early?
I asked
my dad


pushed me out
said I was getting
on his nerves
she said


have you had breakfast?
I asked
no not yet
she said


I looked up
Meadow Row
the early morning sun
was breaking


through clouds
you can come back
to my mum's place
I said


have rolls and butter
she looked at me
can I ?
she said


of course
I replied
taking in her red eyes
and untidy hair


and a fading bruise
under her left eye
real butter?
she said


yes and maybe
cheese if you want
I said
she looked at me


her eyes
feeding on me
what now?
she said


come to the bakers
with me and we
can go back


to my mum's place
I said
so we went across


to the baker's shop
and I bought
crusty bread rolls
my mother had said


and we walked back
through the Square
and up the stairs
to the flat


are you sure
your mum
won't mind?
she said


as I opened
the front door
no she won't mind
the more the merrier


I said
and so we went
into the kitchen
and I told my mother


and she said fine
and cut open the rolls
and buttered them
and put in


some cheese
and Ingrid and I
went into
the front room


and we ate them
in an early morning
and as she ate


I gave a secret sigh
seeing the fading bruise
her left eye.


View dadio's Full Portfolio


Teatime done with
I went with Helen
across the bomb site
off Meadow Row


and crossed
the New Kent Road
to the ABC cinema
and along side


the dark alleys
dim lights
damp stink
she just behind me


clutching her doll
Battered Betty
by one arm
was that a rat?


she half said
and screamed
could be
I said


you see
them at night
down here
she clutched my arm


with her free hand
Battered Betty
swaying behind her
what we looking for?


she asked
cigarette ends
I said


What do you
want them for?
she asked
make up a smoke


with Rizla fag papers
I said
you smoke
old tobacco?


she said
put it
in your mouth?
If I get


enough tobacco
I said
looking around


the ground
she said


I find dropped coins
I found a cuff link once
silver it was
but one


ain't much good
unless you're
a one armed man
I said


does your mum know
you smoke?
God no
I said


she has enough
to worry about
without me
adding to it


she frowned
clutched my arm tighter
well you shouldn't smoke
she said


you're only 9 like me
and I would never smoke
and our children
when we have them


won't smoke either
she said
she looked
at Battered Betty steely


I pushed her words
and images
out of my mind
for the moment


I saw a semi-smoked
Senior Service
on the ground
by the wall


and stooped
to pick it up
it's got lipstick on it
Helen said distastefully


it's has a woman's
spittle inside
I looked at her
disapproving gaze


and threw it away
yes you're right
I said
men's spittle's best


she frowned darkly
I said
not really


I just jest
another time maybe
I thought
taking her deeper


into the dark
and rats
and damp stink
of drains


remembering it all
it sinking
into my
9 year brain.

View dadio's Full Portfolio


Baruch could hear
Fay's father
bawling her out
along the balcony


his  Catholic platitudes
filling the air
he watched
from a safe distance


as Fay's fair hair
was caught
by sunlight
her father's


dark expression
like black clouds
on a summer's day
Pater Nosters


rose and fell
then he went indoor
and left her
standing there


the echo of his voice
staining the air
Baruch waved to her
and she descended


the stairs
to the balcony below
and along
where Baruch stood


what was that all about?
he asked
the nuns
reported me


meeting you
after school
the other day
she said


your daughter
is meeting the Jew
they'd said
he said


Fay looked back
behind her
as she touched
Baruch's arm


you're not to meet
the Jew boy
he was shouting
said he'd give me


a good hiding
if I saw you again
she said
looking up


at the balcony above
Baruch looked
at her fair hair
let loose


unfettered by bow
or ribbon
over her
blue dress


guess we mustn't
be seen then
he said softly
by Burton's window


in half hour
she said
and fled
along the balcony


and up the stairs
to her father's flat
Baruch watched
her go


the sway
of her dress
the hair in flow
then gone


from sight
just going out
he said
to his mother


at her ironing
in the front room
she said


be careful
and so he
went down the stairs
and across the Square


down the slope
and along Rockingham Street
under the railway bridge
and along by


the back
of the cinema
and on to
the New Kent Road


down the subway
along the echoing passage
thinking of Fay
and her father


and his ways
he whistled
as he walked
his sound echoing


along the walls
a Hebrew tune
he'd heard
whistling loud


like a noisy bird
then up the steps
to the place to meet
by Burton's window


on the corner
of St George Road
racing by


waiting for Fay
her beauty
to greet
his Jewish eye.

View dadio's Full Portfolio


Lydia's mother
opened the door
of the flat
after I had knocked


and gave me
a stern stare
is Lydia coming out?
I asked


she looked hard
at me
to the herbalist


get some sarsaparilla
I said
she said


yes it's good for you
they say
makes blood
I said


she looked
at my scuffed shoes
and blue jeans
and the gun and holster


from the snake head
elastic belt
around my waist


I suppose she can
her mother said
she bellowed


windows rattled
a dog
across the Square


the milkman's horse
lifted its head
from the nosebag
Lydia came to the door


and poked her head
out from under
her mother's arm
Benedict here


wants to take you
to get a sarsaparilla
Lydia looked at you
her eyes narrowing


then widening
she said
can I go?


she asked
course if I say so
as long
as you are wrapped warmer


than you are now
her mother said
Lydia rushed back inside
and her mother


took a long drag
of a cigarette
her yellowing fingers
in a V shape


what's your father
do for a living?
she asked
the smoke carrying


her words to me
he's a metal worker
I said
he makes things


from metal
she stared at me
a few loose hairs
had escaped


the flowery scarf
about her head
I think
he frequents whores


she said
I see
I said


what she was saying
she inhaled
on the cigarette again
her eyes


gazing beyond me
keep Lydia out
a fair while
she said


pushing out smoke
I want to rest
my eyes a while


I said
she went indoors
and I waited for Lydia
sniffing in the smoke


hanging about
the doorstep
the dog barked again
the horse ate


from the nosebag
the milkman whistled
a few notes
from some tune


I sniffed the smoke again
hoping Lydia
would be out
wrapped warm soon.

View dadio's Full Portfolio


Ingrid's right ear
was still numb
where her father
hit her head


as she climbed the stairs
to Benedict's flat
and knocked at his door
he's in the Park


I think Ingrid
or try the bomb site
on Meadow Row
his mother said


so she climbed down
the stairs
her eyes
filled with tears


her hearing like
she was under water
she crossed the Square


and over Bath Terrace
into the Park
passed by
the flowers beds


the trees
the wire fence
coming into view
her eyes scanned


through the wire
to see if he was on
the swings
but he wasn't


she entered the playground
and searched
but he wasn't there
her heart sank


low ebb feeling
she walked back
through the Park
along the path


and crossed
Bath Terrace
and back through
the Square


passed kids
playing skip rope
or football
some playing a tag game


here and there
she walked down
the slope


and over
Rockingham Street
passed the fish mongers
up the narrow pavement


passed the houses
her eyes watery
looking up the Row
hoping he'll be there


passed the public house
where her father went
and got drunk
and round


into the narrow
side road
where the bomb site
spread before her eyes


the coal wharf
on her right
horses and wagons
still there


she scanned the site
walked to the edge
her heart thumping
her eyes  searching


and there he was
over by the wall
of a bombed out house
2 walls gone


roof blown off
him standing there
picking up stones
she called his name


he turned and waved
she hurried towards him
over bricks
and stones


and chickweed
to where he stood  
2 small stones
in his hand


been looking for you
she said
her voice
on the edge


of breaking
what's the matter?
he said
but guessed


saw her watery eyes
her tone of voice
my ear hurts
she blurted out


and held her right ear
with her hand
your old man?
he said


she nodded
and cried
and Benedict
hugged her


his 9 year old arms
her thin shoulders
they stood


in the recess
of the bombed out house
sunlight pushing
through the tile less roof


what to say or do
he kissed her hand
and ear


a catapult wedged
in the back pocket
of his jeans
the small stones


held tight
in his left hand
he kissed the ear again


it would help
to heal the pain.

View dadio's Full Portfolio


Janice said
she wanted to show me
how well she skipped
with her new skip rope


I watched
as her small hands
held the wooden ends
and her arms


circled like windmills
and her feet
lifted from the ground
in an odd dance


the rope going over
and under
over and under
have a go


she said
no it's OK
I said
let me show you


how good I can draw
my new gun
from my holster
I said


the toy gun
at my side
a brown hat


(an uncle's trilby)
on my head

she watched me


her red beret
on her head
the lemon dress

I liked her in


the black plimsolls
touching toes
I took out the gun
and spun it


around my finger
like I’d seen
in the Jeff Chandler films
my old man


took me to see
my other hand
spaced at my side
I put the gun back


in the holster
and on the count of
I drew the gun


in the blink
of her lovely blue eyes
as 1-2-3
bad cowboys


(invisible to her)
fell and died
can I have a go?
she asked


sure you can
I said
so undid the belt
and holster and gun


and handed them
to her
to put on
which she did


in clumsy fashion
all fingers and thumbs
once she was ready
(at her own


female pace)
she said
count me in
so I said ok


and counted 1-2-3
and she went
for the gun
and sent it


through the air
catching sun light
on the silvery parts


as it fell
to the ground
with a clattering
spark flying


cap banging

View dadio's Full Portfolio