Neil Clarkson

Raffles

Neil Clarkson

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Wakefield was Vegas

to the lively lads from the

nearby pit villages,

all ‘tha knows’ ‘alreet’

and ‘You a puff’?


The pit lads,

all week underground,

dark camaraderie

roam overground

on Friday nights,

Savannah big cats

on the prowl, pissed and proud.


Raffles nightclub,

upstairs and down.

Upstairs for the goths,

weirdos, Bowie freaks

with complicated choreography,

swapping numbers, popping poppers.

Downstairs, the young colliers

pit prop arms,

nodding to the charts,

a week’s coal dust building

a bravado thirst.


Midnight, things warming up,

‘Another Girl Another Planet’

‘The Passenger’.

Electronic Glen could fill the dancefloor

like a shepherd fills a pen,

but the pit lads had come upstairs,

ready for another lopsided war.


They ploughed in under spinning disco balls,

tanked on Tetley’s,

shit-faced on Smiths,

tables were upended,

beer slid across the floor.

Glen stopped the music

then the bouncers,

probably from the same villages,

weighed in, not through duty

but for the sport.

By Monday it would be forgotten,

the art students off hatching dreams,

pit lads working the last tired seams. 


Neil Clarkson


Neil Clarkson is a long-standing member of the Albert Poets, Huddersfield.  He has been published in magazines including Pennine PlatformThe Black Horse and Obsessed by Pipework. He has won prizes in numerous competitions. His debut collection, Build You Again from Wood, was published in February 2017 by Calder Valley Poetry.