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.
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 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,
The successor, the buyer: The IRA.
The merchandise: 9,000lb of C4,
Digital timers, blasting caps,
A battered old van.
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.
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,
Days later, the clean-up begins,
Clearing a path for a glassy,
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.