When The Saints by Greg Freeman

Lowest water I’ve ever seen

at Putney Bridge, the river

                   just a silver sliver.

Warmer than the Sahara.

Forty-one stations between

Wimbledon and Upminster.


At Sloane Square a four-piece

brass band blasts us with

When The Saints Go Marching In.

                        Twenty seconds

of hope and happiness.

I donate, lead the applause.                     


Exchange anxious glances

with a woman in black

                       when we’re turfed out

at Dagenham East, four stops

short of the funeral; acknowledge her

again with a wave outside the church.


The priest only mentions Paula

                           two or three times.

Preoccupied with the incense

                                 and holy water.


At the wake the woman in black

knew Paula in the 80s and 90s,

reveals herself as an MP’s wife.

There’s another MP there, and his wife,

a baroness, and a bloke that we used to see

on the telly, speaking for the party.


We drink to Paula, talk about narrowing

poll margins, and Jeremy Corbyn.

The old, vicious men who soil themselves

in their comical tabloids.

Seen in the street with their flies undone.

Does anyone still read them?


Her widower Joe recalls his part

in ‘the longest suicide note in history’:

I wasn’t allowed to change anything.

Just checked it for grammar, punctuation.

The beer flows. We start wondering

                                    about a miracle …


The phrase “the longest suicide note in history” was coined by the late Labour MP  Sir Gerald Kaufman] to describe his party’s 1983 general election manifesto. At that election the Tories won by a majority of 144 seats, the most decisive election victory since Labour’s in 1945

Greg Freeman is a former newspaper sub-editor and now news editor for the poetry website Write Out Loud https://www.writeoutloud.net/public/index.php. His debut pamphlet collection Trainspotters http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/greg-freeman/4587958507 was published in 2015 by Indigo Dreams  

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