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Capoeira on the Pier

It’s a long sunny afternoon on our Pier
All one mile and a third of it
Although one woman sounds disappointed
On the outward leg
To hear
It’s not further
Into the Thames Delta
Where the bleached boardwalk
Opens out like a piazza
For fishermen
And the Lifeboats
Where there’s enough room to twirl
With your arms outstretched
Until you were dizzy and had to lie
On the silvered planks
Amongst the No Smoking signs
And look at the sky


You don’t
Because your kids
Would hate you

So you walk in bursts of fast
And idle
Stuck between walkers:
Behind the woman
With one, squeaking, shoe
And you just know
That she’s somebody’s mother
Right there, halfway out to
Knob Creek
& The Shivering Sands
because if she were not,
He would
Tell her.

And you don’t
Because your kids
Would hate you

The whirling
Swirling dancers,
Scissor snapping
Legs in the air
Wearing white
Dancing Afro-Brazilian beats
‘Til we clap and sway
Wanting to join


But we don’t
Because our kids
Would hate us

The dreadlock MC
Takes the mike
Singing Reggae-on-Sea
And, we, nearly can’t help ourselves
Joining in
Under our


And now the kids
Really hate you
And want to leave

But now I am all
‘Get up
Stand up
Stand up
For your rights
Get up
Stand up
Don’t give up the fight’
And I don’t.
Until I do
When they complain
They are hungry
or cold
And it’s true
The east wind is whipping
Up the estuary

And now the kids
Really hate you
And want to leave

We pile on the train
As the man with an empty pushchair
Plants his feet astride
The longest pier in the world
And Orthodox Jewish girls,
Who have it all ahead of them,
Arrive at the pierhead
On foot
In sensible skirts

Without any kids
To hate them

Our carriage
Is full of drummers
But we see the guitar playing
In the next,
Wondering where the trumpet’s gone.
And all we know
As the train rumbles away
Is the sound of the drums:
And the beat goes on
The baby smiles.

As yet
Too young
To hate them