Friday, 26 April 2013

Manchester's Shame

Let’s take a look at day 2 of NaPoWriMo. The prompt is a poem that tells a lie. Here’s a Mancunian tale of an “alternate” history.

Manchester, 1996.
A high-roofed, airy chamber:
The archaic, Gothic Town Hall
Suits and ties and darkened minds.
Overshadowed by colossi:
London, Birmingham, Liverpool-
The city stagnates.
This will not do, they agree. This must change.
Their sporting goal:
The Commonwealth Games. To host, to sell,
To rejuvenate.
To put a chain of events into motion:
To rebuild a city, to take on the UK’s Metropoli,
To make Manchester shine.
The meeting closes. A door opens.
The mayor enters with a man, Devant. They are alone.
They plot and scheme. They crusade.

A week later: a secret auction.
Worldwide moneyed tyrants argue.
The mayor oversees. Devant bangs a gabble,
Echoing, bomb-like.
The successor, the buyer: The IRA.
The merchandise: 9,000lb of C4,
Digital timers, blasting caps,
A battered old van.
A codeword.

Days later: The call is made.
Emergency services receive the codeword,
An IRA chant.
The town is cleared: ants,
From a dollop of cinnamon.
A van in ghost-town Manchester.
A distant camera, high angle,
Image greyed out and silent,
Zoomed far in and grainy.
A small white van, boxy and desolated.
Then, obliteration.
A ball of light. Zoom out:
A street engulfed in smoke
Up to the rooftops.

On the street: alarms ring.
The carcass of the van still burning.
Debris. Dents in lampposts.
An overhead walkway a gutted frame.
Smashed and battered shop fronts.
A dirty mushroom, filling the skyline.
Stragglers glassed, then hauled
Into standby ambulances.
Only the local post box, blood-red,
Remains untouched.

Days later, the clean-up begins,
Clearing a path for a glassy,
Metropolitan future.
Repaving. Reinstalling. Rejuvenating.
Day by week by month,
The city blooms, business booms,
Yet the IRA still looms,
In the minds of the people.
The locals’ prize for enduring this:
A large, modern sporting stadium-
And a grant from the Commonwealth.
In the stained-oak chambers
of the city’s boardrooms,
The mayor and Devant share
handshakes and visions of success,
as IRA money flows blood-like into the city.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.