Friday, September 14, 2012

A Poem by Bryan Murphy

Bar Londra
I’ve done it. I’ve made it.
Look at it. This café is all mine!
Tough being an immigrant in London, it was. I can tell you.
Don’t often get a chance.
Margery already knows the details.
MyMargery. Best babe in Brixton,
she truly was.
Saved me from a gang of skinheads. How we met.
Course here it’s different. We don’t really need all these people, got nothing to envy them for, not like Londoners envy us.
Italians do it better!
That lot
have learned: we’re all Europeans now, even them.
This lot,
well, they work bloody hard, when they get a job. If. Like I did over there.
It’s not easy for them either, but there are limits:
our women, our jobs.
This guy,
banging at my door,
I’ve already locked up. Screamin’ blue murder.
Could be San Mercurio,
gotta let him in,
show some Christian compassion.
if our people are after him, he must have done something.
What am I supposed to do, have them
smash my door and windows?
Could be customers among them.
Bloody hell, let Margery decide.
I’ll never hear the last of it.
This land is my place now. “Home”
is somewhere else; far away.
I took that boat, survived, got jobs, a contract, a stay permit.
I’m legal.
I send money back there to my wives and children.
When I’ve learned the language, become a citizen, I hope I can bring them over here.
If they want,
if they’re still alive,
if they remember who I am.
It is all too easy to run foul of drunken louts
ready to attribute the misery of their own lives to someone else’s skin,
to shed your blood to assuage
their own impotence.
Who is this man
who opens his café’s locked door,
offers me tea and safety,
brags about a life in London,
toys with me and rituals of drinking,
is ready to let the louts in on me,
as long as his wife will let him?
He’s a good man, really, my Carlo.
Just forgets himself sometimes.
Always asking for things,
but ready to give as well.
It’s true he had a hard time in London, but not that hard. There was prejudice against Italians, but try being black!
Does like to talk. On and on, if you let him. What an opportunity when that poor man came shouting for shelter. Let him in, sat him down, droned away, drowned him in tea, then threatened to let the mob in to do him.
Asked me to open the door.
Knew I’d never.
They’ve invented phones. I know the police’s number.
He’s a good man, really.

Bryan Murphy is a man of Kent, though he comes from a long line of Irish peasants. He has worked as a fruit-picker, kitchen hand, road-sweeper, bar-tender, wages clerk, teacher of English as a foreign language, translator and copy-editor. He recently retired from a job within the United Nations system, and now concentrates on his own words, as a writer and an actor. He divides his time between, England, Italy and the wider world. A sample of his novella of ideas, Goodbye, Padania, is available here:

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