English Journey

by Will Kemp

The train skirts the bricked-in brickworks
guarded by some barbed wire, an old mattress
on rough ground strewn with knickers
and crushed cans, the shell of a burnt-out car.

A pub with people outside dressed in black:
the wake perhaps for that local lad
blown up on night patrol in An Najaf.

Smashed windows, streets with no trees,
the hull of a church proclaiming
MAN U SCUM by DANGER KEEP OUT

a detail that may have flashed by as he lay
bleeding in the dust, sky like that tarmac
back home, always speckled with broken glass.