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June 3, 2016


In this one, I’m recalling a time in the ‘80s when I worked as a social housing team leader in a notorious inner-city area. “Sputnik” was a type of hashish peddled in the UK back then.




A crescent,

scabrous breasts of wanton concrete.


Political posters flap,

the tattered garments of a ravaged whore.


Dark shades,


caps back-to-front:


“Sputnik you want? Sputnik you want?”


Banknotes crackle and packets are passed,

orange-rimmed packets of dreams.


Blades in back pockets.


Do they ever raise their gaze

above this flabby grey torso

to follow an airliner

in and out of clouds

and over the hills beyond?


Doubt it.


Paul Beech


Copyright © Paul Beech 2016


From → General, Poetry

  1. You’ve certainly captured the bleakness of it all. For me, Sputnik will always be that first spacecraft put into orbit by the Russians in the late 1950’s, when I was still in grammar school. A most exciting event….

    • Thanks, Cynthia. Yes, how the Russians’ beeping satellite captured our imaginations back in ’57. It was pretty dreadful, nearly thirty years later, on my way to a pie shop one lunchtime, having to squeeze through a bunch of pushers peddling their foul wares on the street: “Sputnik you want, Sputnik you want…” My time as a social housing manager in a high-rise jungle where crime was rife has left dark memories.


  2. maureen Weldon permalink

    What a scary and awful world, the world of drugs and crime and all that goes with it. A very powerful poem.

    All my love Maureen x

    • Maureen, a murky world it was indeed, surreal in retrospect. Yet plunge into it I did daily, not in fear despite the risks, but with pride in my team, determined we should make a difference for the under-privileged of the area. Threatened I was several times, actually held at knife-point on one occasion. Yet my luck held and I came through it all unscathed with a bunch of memories, good and bad. I shall never forget the team meetings I held in a café – the toasted teacakes were on me!

      Very much love,

      Paul xxx

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