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A small boy on the front row  is intrigued by women with  "eyes down" for bingo on the  front row at the Old People's  Club on the Park Hill Estate,  Sheffield, Yorkshire, England.     Date: 1961
Legs Eleven

 

She brought you to bingo

to slice through numbers

with a black marker

on Monday nights,

to keep you sober

and from the vodka

slumber.

 

For company,

for your own safety,

to keep you out

of the kitchen drawer

and the cold, blue bathroom

that didn’t have a key.

 

You collected the bottles

maintained your nails and

highlights, everything else

left to slide away.

Your only break

from those four yellow walls

 

was into a big book

and two fat ladies.

The wolf whistles pierced

pensioner concentration

in the musty parish hall.

Kelly’s Eye, key of the door,

and all the others.

The call lodged in throats

waited to rise and shout,

the black slashes

marked a full house.

 

A sneaky trip for mouthwash,

then back to front seat denial

and another bag search.

The yellow walls heard

the coughs to muffle the breaking seal,

the broken spiral of a new litre

to where it all went wrong.

 

 

© Lorraine Carey, first published in The Blue Nib (August 2017) and in the anthology Please Hear What I’m Not Saying (March 2018)

Picture 10078824, photograph by Roger Mayne, 1961, image copyright Mary Evans / Roger Mayne

 

 

Lorraine Carey is an Irish poet and artist. Her poems have featured in ProleBlack Bough, The Honest Ulsterman, OrbisPoetry Ireland Review, SmithereensAtrium, Abridged, Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, The Curlew, The Ogham Stone and on Poethead among others.  She was the featured artist in Issue 11 of Skylight 47 and Issue 9 of North West Words. A Pushcart prize nominee and shortlisted for The Allingham Poetry Prize 2019, she was runner up in Trocaire/Poetry Ireland and The Blue Nib Chapbook Competitions 2017. A contributor to several anthologies, her debut collection is From Doll House Windows (Revival Press, 2017).