Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Watercolour by Tony Taylor http://www.paintingbreaksguernsey.com

Friday, 13 May 2016

BULLY BOY

Every big city has its characters and the city of my birth, Belfast, has no shortage of them, including a great many you’d not wish to meet with on a dark night.
The Bull is not based on an individual: instead, he’s a composite of all those sinister “hard-men” who inhabit the street-corners of the Newtownards or Shankill Roads. Around them an aura of danger buzzes like an angry wasp.



THE BULL

He owns the corner
like a bull its field: 
scuffed boots paw the ground.

A one-man mine-field, scarred fists clench and crunch
in empty pockets of his greasy jeans.
His face, a pock-marked battle-shield,
invites you to go fuck yourself and then fuck off. 
A bottle juts out of his shabby coat,
the bottle-neck the barrel of a smoking gun.
He’s rank with feral sweat: it steams up from his shoulders
like a swarm of flies.

He bellows oaths and challenges
at passing shipyard men and bookie’s lads
or stamps and roars
at shawlies creeping off to morning pews.
It’s no disgrace at all to keep your distance from The Bull.
Even the Peelers choose to walk the other side.

Around his heels, a whippet
weaves a Celtic knot, her eyes placating. 
The pup’s delicacy
makes a beast of him, slouched on his corner.

Surly breezes swirl detritus round his leaden feet
and lift and shake his mad hair 
like an Ulster flag.


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