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This poem is about the first time I visited my girlfriend after she’d started university in Liverpool. I was very much a boy from Devon. I hadn’t spent much time in cities and had never seen a real fight or been scared by the violence of others. This was a moment when my eyes were opened to how different our life experiences can be.

You might argue
But you talk it out
No need to come to blows
We’re all grown ups after all
And everybody knows
That violence doesn’t solve things
It just scares the problems deep
Hides them for another day
Festering in sleep
Ready to be born again
To carve another scar
To spill red blood upon the floor
And stain all that you are

The pub’s on Allerton Road
We laugh and have a drink
It’s my first time in Liverpool
I like this place, I think
My girlfriend lives up here
And I’ve driven from down south
I’m meeting her new friends
My heart is in my mouth
A bit, Cos I want them to like me
I’m not sure where to begin
I sense my very southern ways
Don’t help me to fit in
I think I make a good impression
Cos they all seem at ease
We talk about the Uni
About choosing our degrees
About our past adventures
About our future plans
I become sharply aware
Though that it all lies in our hands
I’ll move up here soon
And this will be our town
Four long and distant years
Before the cap and gown
Before that final day
That bookend of education
So dignified, so qualified
On our day of graduation
My daydream is cut short
There’s something going on
A man raises his voice
It sounds like something’s wrong
I turn to face the sound
And feel the anger rise
As just across the bar
A couple of big guys
Are squaring up together
Ready for a fight
One shouts into the others face
His features screwed up tight
His fists balled up like hammers
About to smash it all
About to smash another face
The writings on the wall
But the other pushes out
And knocks the first man back
And everybodies staring
As he goes on the attack
He grabs a chunky ash tray
From a table by the bar
And he lifts it in the air
And it glitters like a star
Before falling to the earth
A world of skin turned red
As the ashtray carves a valley
In the top of the others head

He falls for a few seconds
Then stumbles to his feet
He heads straight for the door
He beats a pained retreat
We sit there in stunned silence
Not sure what to do next
Trying not to stare at them
Uncomfortable and vexed
And I hear Andy chuckling
Like this happens every week
And he goes to pay the bill
I stay silent, I can’t speak
As I see the plaster ceiling
Mirrored in a scarlet pool
And a frightened boy from Devon
His first day in Liverpool

You might argue
But you talk it out
No need to come to blows
We’re all grown ups after all
And everybody knows
That violence doesn’t solve things
It just scares the problems deep
Hides them for another day
Festering in sleep
Ready to be born again
To carve another scar
To spill red blood upon the floor
And stain all that you are


#spokenword #poetry

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