Cheese, meat, coffee, the lost sweetness 
of sugar, that was war. He couldn’t affix 
an “A” gasoline sticker to the windshield 
since he had no car, being nonessential, 
all those seized rubber plantations
just the absence of galoshes 
and condoms.  
                        So he took us across a river,
                           across the silent past
we never knew was ours, rocking back and forth
on subway trains, through tunnels, the wheels’ clackety-
clack a stick dragged along someone’s picket fence,
   a faraway song,
                             as we kept to a place
portioning out a shirt or socks 
            or re-soled shoes, 
and he smelled of beer
while we saved string to tie up 
anything that wasn't there, made 
balls from the foil of Lucky Strike
packs, though some days he bought cigarettes
loose and got news for a penny,
          death being so cheap
across the sea,
                         but he would never
                                   not be coming home, 
               and mother, hauling ashes
from the building’s furnace, would never not
have a blackened touch, while the darkness in our throats
was raw with words we couldn’t afford    
to speak.               
John Allman | Mudlark No. 37
Contents | Your Life Twice