Narrative Poems - Poems For Narrative

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Liverpool's Renaissance - Poem by Barney Rooney

There are strangers walking again on this city’s streets
as there used to be before the tide changed
when the sun and moon knew it was time to leave it be
gave up the full of their pull on the cleansing sea
from Burbo's black crusted wrecks left high and dry
whisked off the shipwrecked souls
in grey fleeced shoals
into the dimming western sky

Left the river city’s brick and stone to weather on
take its turns of wind, rain and sleet
the frames of hanger doors of rusting sheet
beat loose for none but pigeons had a use
for dead riverside warehouses
the mud dust settled into weeded cracks
in the granite quaysides scored by wagon tracks

the city grandees had made their trade
took their toll from tobacco cotton sugar cane
left the dirtying of hands to others
to scrub the lower decks of pain and the sin
of rows of shackled Africans therein
turned their back to ride the leaving tide
their debris scattered along the riverside
exchanged among themselves the parting treat
nobility claimed by names on city streets

the Mersey beat slowed to keep in time
with the faltering cadence of the city
the beat now as in beaten
Tates took its trade off to another place
turned a sugary smile to Vauxhall’s face
swore its loyalty and pledged its care
while moving the business elsewhere
all those surplus guitar maestros ran their riffs
turned to funk chilled with splifs
and talked about the might have beens
the who I was and what I mean
to do about it now
most just put their heads down
having been here before
for even good times failed to fill the store
of hopes, this for most was a get-by city
and getting by was no disgrace
when your people came from a hungrier place

in the village off Princes Avenue
some who had come when the tide still ran
knew a man on a turnaround trip
name and address on a tattered slip
settle here, find a wife
new country new life
ironed the suit
tilted the trilby
taking a chance on what the future will be
lifted the collar against the cold
and off down the gangplank
with the sway of the seaman’s stroll
nod to the gate then its slow measured and proud
into a dock road bar’s crowd
the day to day of a 3 day stay became a lifetime

the city knew not who they were nor whence they came,
nor how nor how many nor what they were doing
and thought it best to leave them in the corner of the town
keep the rest of it out of bounds
bad times don't broaden minds
no one can rightly claim this place was kind
paid a passage shovelling to the stoker’s dong
paid again for bringing up their children wrong
or so the righteous understood
to justify their duty to the civic good
took the children and the young men one by one
til the glorious clamour of anger and of riotous fun
in 1981
a timely community festival
if ever there was one

there were other fights
a council pleaded for its right to reign
but who knows if politicians and unions
could be taken at their claim
to be the people’s liberators
far from capitalism’s overthrow
we had the hatton show
confounded as to how to lead and not be led astray
when the unbridled ego wants more
than just to have a say
baring teeth to snap another bite
just frizzled out to nothing for the pleasure of a fight
heroic battles claimed of scrappy retreat
all that was to gain lay in the manner of defeat

and there were the not-so-much fighters
as the we can do alright-ers
out of someone else's plight-ers
the grant grazing entrepreneurs of social enterprise
good intentioned twaddle and aspirational dross
always somebody else’s money out of somebody else's loss
promising what the funders want to hear
and mates of mates will always get an ear
new openings for old tricks
spending the grant keeping the bricks
til the money is gone the band dispersed
skimmed the complicit public purse
nothing changed


at last the saviours came to town
but not a one was straddling an ass
the subsidy was not a gift to pass
eased the risk with guaranteed returns
what use is wealth if it no longer earns
its keep, concrete steel and bluegreen glass
for a future built on packaging the past
strangers love the bustle brightness and the things to do
cross the world to stand in Menlove Avenue
on a city break with the must see list
leave still hungry for all they missed
this once great port of the nation
taking its leisure as a weekend destination

education too, on an industrial scale
though temper the presumption
that its product is for locals consumption
for the pedagogues have got the 'l' out of learning
growing fat in seats of earning
queues at the gates to pay their fees
do their time and get their degrees
students from Beijing, Zhuhai and Singapore
Potter’s Bar, King’s Lynn and Carrickmore
a nursery for adults and come the day
proud parents will come to take them away
with their photo and the parchment scroll
passed through as if they owned
this place of transit away from home
their sugar rush of energy
trampling the city underfoot
for care is not the thing of youth
but there is money in being taught to think you think
fees and flats and plenty of drink
and all those happy taxi drivers

tourists and students would hardly be enough
for a city which at the best of times was rough
round the edges
transformation needed ‘leadership’and‘infrastructure’?
welcome - ‘Culture’
though not culture as we know it
for industry found the capital in Culture
and set the sparks
fell in love and the two of them went at it
like frogs in March
filled the ‘pool with bucketfulls of spawn
so no stiff audience had to stifle yawns
be done with all that’s arty farty
culture found its highest form in PARTY
set out the stock
around the Dock
then put aside a year to rock
the new hard glass angles cut the spaces
that formerly flowed between the graces
across the road a shopping labyrinth
of steps, levels and polished plinths
enough to provision a city with everything
it will never need
for a crisscross of shoppers, diners, drinkers
a froth of fashionistas, baristas, bloggers and blaggers
skaters and daters, sorry I’m laters
the Tate there to put its past behind it
not to resurrect the refinery so much
as bring refinement to the resurrection
enough for everyone to feel touched by the infection

The art of regeneration
part installation, part illusion
a narrative without conclusion
for you and me it may be little use
by the time it trickles down this far
the change is pretty loose
and care is needed with that prevailing NW wind
for froth too easily blows away
scattered to wherever may choose to pay its play
but take your pleasure
and if your maudlin nature needs to be consoled
consent that they gave the city new heart
but its those with little else who give it soul

the grey ghosts are back on watch on Burbo Bank
dancing to the wind in wraith like strands
in fitting light high above the sands
their presence now more formally planned
in ranks to do the will of living man
true souls of this city there to give their best
spurn the wind when the mood is on them for a rest

renaissance, foolish word, there is no rebirth
the city cried I never died
though we know what it is
to be left for dead

Comments about Liverpool's Renaissance by Barney Rooney

  • Rookie - 114 Points Thomas Vaughan Jones (3/6/2014 1:38:00 PM)

    Well written Barney. You covered most of it, the sores and ulcers, the good times and latent laughter even when things were at their darkest. Liverpool suffered a lot of bad press, from central goverment and our neighbours next door. The City has it's share of bad guys and black spots, but there is one HUGE difference. For any lout who would knock you down, there are a thousand who will stop by and pick you up again. And the music and laughter still rings out at the festivals (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • Rookie - 40 Points Tanya Gupta (3/2/2014 1:57:00 AM)

    very nice poem, excellent job keep writing.come to my page and read my poems and comment them (Report) Reply

Read all 2 comments »

Poems About Narrative

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  7. 157. Alankar(Decor) -175 , Indira Renganathan
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  11. 161. Truth To Delude , Lawrence S. Pertillar
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