AN AMERICAN TRILOGY
for Joe Strummer
Every last punter’s been drinking since daybreak.
Now they’re roaring their hearts out at each passing lyric -
innocent, guilty alike. And all sound alike, give or take.
a few beers. A lad with a voice like lead-piping ensures
Everybody Hurts. A man who’s been drunk every day
of his fifty-nine years and can no more remember his name
than the words to Ghost Riders, yippee-i-ays it out anyway.
The Junior Lesbian Club in the corner are snogging unnoticed
till one gets a cheer for her YMCA (post-Foucault, postmodern,
past caring, this pub. And bloody good drugs in the beer.)
Someone too young to remember McCartney half-stoned
and half-miming on Top of the Pops loses count
of the na-na-na-nas in Hey Jude (Thirteen
then fade, if you’re bothered. He’s not. He’s knocked
down, but gets up again. He will survive.)
And elderly Elvis is back from the grave,
wishing he was in the land of cotton.
quiffs are silent, some fugitive dream resurrected:
one touch of grace, one year’s rebellion ? Sequins flash
unseen on desert air. Babies hush their crying.
A big lass in leather kicks off the refrain.
We’re out before our heresy’s detected.
Glory, glory, Elvis Presley.
Is, and was, and always will be.
(John Smith’s, Boddie’s, lie a-mouldering.
Their truth is howled in song.)