He stood and constantly spat –
on the pavement – outside his front door

A gooey waterhole
One to side-step, rather than explore

The scene is set for you
and with your screwed up face I hear you say:
‘What kind of story do you bring us today?’

It’s the story of Jackson,
Jackson was his first name
Alcohol – we might say – was his game

The poor man suffered from asthma
And as he stood at the door
Need I say more,
He was drinking his life away

It was a smelly unclean house.
Because his brother was gone
Jackson tried to carry on
He smoked like a train and

More than – now and again
Needed someone to go to the shop
He couldn’t make it up the street
So would ask me to go, and so

I took to my feet
The errand to complete

My manners intact, I would often oblige
And go and buy him the horrible cigarettes
– (I wasn’t up for laying any bets).
So with spitting and smell and breathlessness
It was a horrible encounter to take from his nicotine hand
the necessary finance to buy the Woodbine brand.

No one else would help him out
God helped me, I have no doubt
Because the stench, the dirt, the gasping wheezing
breath was hard to endure to give Jackson what
he thought was his cure.

But in it all – his kindness shone through and the penny,
sometimes two, a sixpence, or more was his tip –

but even though, it was kindly given, for getting
the woodbine (and a chip)

It was hard for a young fellow
To accept the sweaty money
While his two fancy women milked him with ‘honey’

Taking what he had by devious means
They all drank together in that filthy home
Till one day he was gone – no longer a street gnome

propped against the wall
cigarette and all

Jackson the alcoholic – dependent on a pre-teen child
who didn’t always help, and wanted to hide,

Is still remembered and finds his way here
Onto a page, a poem, a memory – still clear.


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