Friday, 9 May 2014

Guest Poet 17 - P.R Mcdowell - Remembrance (1st draft)

(Our 17th guest poet, P.R. McDowell is another writer who is good friend of mine from Oldham who I am writing a play with him slowly called 'Twisted Promise'. 

In this poem, he offers a different take on my ghost poem which I really enjoyed and hope you enjoy too.)

It was a good day;
Filled with
friendly chatter and
hearty laughs;
Right from the moment
we all met
at Piccadilly Gardens
eager to board the tram
and be on our way,
Our boss had said
we couldn’t organise
“A piss up
in a brewery”
And now we were
about to prove to him
that we could,
Because we had
for his 50th.

Best was that
he had no idea.
He thought
that we were all
just going for
a curry and drinks,
At that new place
in the city centre
and we’d stay out late.
When the tram came
we hustled him
aboard, and after
it had made two stops
We told him, and
he couldn’t believe
we’d hired
the Irwell Works
brewery in Bury.
When we arrived
he seemed to be in shock
we all were
As we were shown
around by the staff
and we saw
where the ales were made.
He thanked us.
Then we sat round
a massive table
the brewery had set out,
Filled with their own
ales and bitters
to wash down
the burgers and
pies they provided
for private parties.
Must have been there
for about four hours
by time we’d done
and the boss exclaimed
“The night’s still young,
so let’s get our
arses back to town again!”
And we all agreed;
like it was a great idea.
Then, before long
we were on a tram again,
Heading to Salford Quays,
and I don’t remember
who even suggested
that we go there.
But I remember
what happened before
we got to our stop…
Blinding light shone
on one side
of the carriage
Then spun in an arc
quickly towards
our tram;
Everyone panicked,
started to run to
the doors at the other end.
But it didn’t stop
the hysteria
or the car
Slamming right into
the exterior,
making the tram flip
Onto its side
where those of us
still conscious and unhurt

Had to rely on
each other, as strangers,
and the doors
on just one side
To escape;
But we didn’t
get chance to.
The car burst
into flames.
Translucent zig-
zags flew through the air,
catching some of us unaware.
Leaving red vines
and crude etches
marking us
As survivors
a, great tragedy.
The cries, and
the wails
From inside and out
were deafening
and as the flames
licked hungrily
at the side of the tram
I knew some
more wouldn’t make it.
I could see
the water, it
seemed close enough to
dip a finger into.
And it sent
a shiver
down my spine
just as much
as the dead did.
My boss,
Steve- he was always
so calm and collected
but now
He was cold and so far
away, no amount of time
would lead to him
Telling us
what we should do.
For a moment
I thought of going
to Becky and Mark
who clung onto each other
wet eyed
as he tried to stop her
from seeing her mate
Toni across the aisle,
So many were slumped
lying here and there
like discarded marionettes
Their strings
off like their breath;
Then from the corner
of my eye
I saw the flash of blue
As the emergency services
came racing as fast
as lightning
And I hoped
and -for the first time
in years-, I prayed
That we would
be saved and no one
else would die.
The sky was like treacle
as the smoke seemed
to echo Hirashima;
The firemen fought for
what seemed like hours;
we kept slipping away.
I saw so many
helped out by them,
I was the last to go;
I couldn’t
call out and
fallen seats hid me from view.

The tram finally went
the water ate it up
and freed me.
Out the window
I could see
just how many survived;
 It could have been
so many less and
The dead count
so much more.
They say on the
anniversary of that night
a man can be seen
Walking along the dock,
and then kneeling
as if paying respects;
Then afterwards,
he’s gone
like he never existed.
But I know
people still remember me,
and in a way
I enjoy those peaceful strolls.

(P.R. McDowell is a Mancunian writer of fiction & poetry as well as being one part of Unity Media collective & an occasional event organiser. He currently lives in Oldham and is working on a novel, his first collection, and the Twisted Promise production & other projects in the works by Unity Media; his poetry has been published by JackMove Mag, on the Napalm And Novocain e-zine, and in Best of Manchester Poets third anthology amongst others)

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