Terry Collett

Gold Star - 23,291 Points (13/12/1947 / LONDON)

Helen And You And A Bag Of Chips - Poem by Terry Collett

After school
after tea
of bread and jam
a mug of tea

and a slice of cake
you met Helen
under the railway bridge
in Rockingham Street

and she was holding
Battered Betty her doll
in her arms
and she said

Betty wanted to come
she gets lonely
stuck at home

you said
as long as she's quiet
and doesn't cry
all the time

she won't
Helen said
does your mum know
you're out?

you asked
of course
Helen replied
but she said

not to be late
or come home
in the dark
you'll be safe

I've got my six-shooter
with me
you said
tapping the toy gun

tucked in the belt
of your jeans
I told Mum
I was with you

and she said ok
I don't think
she'd let me out

a train clattered
over the bridge
over head
let's go

you said
and the three of you
walked up and along by
the Trocadero cinema

she talking about
Battered Betty's day
and what Carmody
had said at school

and how he smelt
of B.O. and cabbages
you watched the people
passing along

the New Kent Road
a constant stream
passing back
and forth

and still Helen talked
as you walked
Carmody's just a fink
you said

take no notice
what he says
and she clutched your hand
with her free hand

not clutching the doll
and you both ran
across the road
and stood outside

the Odeon cinema
gazing at the still photos
in the frames
of what film was showing inside

don't fancy that
you said
too much kissing
and women crying

and boring men
what's wrong with kissing?
Helen asked
better than men

shooting guns
or riding horses
over yellow deserts
making women cry

you looked at her
with her large eyes
behind her thick lens glasses
watery as lakes

and her brown hair
plaited into two plaits
you said

how about a bag of chips?
she nodded then said
I've got no money
don't worry my dad

gave me 6d
for polishing his shoes
the other day
you said

she said
and you walked down
towards the Neptune fish shop

and asked for 6d of chips
and the man
with the one eye
scooped chips

into a bag
and you gave him
the money
and Helen sprinkled

salt and vinegar over them
and you both went outside
and stood together
and shared the bag of chips

and each chip tasted
hot and salty
and warmed your insides
and Helen kissed your cheek

with her greasy warm lips
and said
thank you for these
and you said

no problem
anything to please
and you felt
the damp kiss

there on your cheek
and you smiled
to yourself

I won't wash that off
for a week.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, August 23, 2012

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