Out of Season

c. 1990 – I was seventeen when I wrote this, so it’s juvenilia

The tourist lights now flicker and fade
And the tide rolls in without retreating again.

The water that fell as September rain
Stood for weeks in stagnant, stinking drains
Outside boarded-up stores, collecting decay,
Or water-butts breeding next year’s flies
To haunt the windows of the shopping arcade
Where disabled, lonely things parade.

The cafe opens a few hours a day.
The sun’s too weak to blow the sand away
That gathers in every empty space
Like icing sugar on a cancer cake.

Boats bob rottenly in the bay
That hasn’t seen even a hint of trade
Since pollution turned the ocean grey.

The kids are too depressed to play
In the ruins of streets Victorians made
And the surest route to a quick escape
Is running into gangs that carry blades
And hang around the bars all day;
Drinking and wishing they’d never stayed
Dissolving, like the town, in the fine salt spray.

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