A September heatwave;

heavy rays pin us to the low wall.

The carpark tarmac,

flat, thick black,

curdles with glass.

The last day of the holidays has found us,

precious minutes evaporate in heat –

if you put your head to the ground

you can see them swim.

A friendship solid and temporary,

sealed with blood and glass, two hands

pressed in prayer.

Scars last.


A van disturbed the silence,

fat tyres hissing, spitting stones.

We stirred, two curious crows.

It creaked, a wheezing metal pig,

and parked. A smell sank down from it:

diesel, grown ups, something else,

something thick, like heat.

The old driver climbed out,

gruff, stuffed with coughs,

made as if to ruffle our hair and stopped,

laughed, made his way to the pub.


It would be the smell that sealed this,

for future dreams, for fits in half-strangled sleep.

It seeped down from a gap in the back,

a gash, a buzzing stripe

of black that seemed to



We circled the van,

scavengers, approached,

hyenas forced from idleness by



I pushed my ear to the hot skin

like a brother listening to his unborn sibling,

kicking against his mother.


We climbed, our hands bringing clangs

and echoes to the steel, scrambling,

stretching, up

to the gap,

to the humming black.

Fingers curled the metal lip,

we pulled ourselves up,



and looked.

A fit of flies.

A shape.

A head.

An eye.


We dropped, ran.

Laughed. Grew.



IOB 03/07/13



About Ian O'Brien

I am a teacher and scribbler, living in Manchester, UK.
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