Belfast 1974


Lights lasers off rearview mirror roused up early morn’ noddin’

Could be back doors open, flat tyre or tail light broken,

The truck rumbles off the black to tan, let’s see what’s up

with man behind in van.

Pulls up short reverses back, steady mate you’re gonna crash.

Then unseen from before, a shadowy mask is banging my door.

From mist a balaclava stare, has one eye cocked down the barrel.

‘Get out or you’re dead!’ words that blunt that bold; blood cold.

Backdoors burst wide open; Three Santa’s pull me to the grotto

‘Get this on yer head and tie it tight!’ not that but that intent,

How tight is tight when roping a sack around your head?

No words were spoken, tap tap to Morse the man in cabin.

Zippo lights the fags, smoke swallowed in great gulps and whistled in exhale,

Remembering oh God, dark days; ciggy burns a punishment behind the lines.

His boot cracked off the back of my skull, ‘lie still’ not that but that made him laugh,

Face down I could feel the beat of stamping in applause; for the cause.

Tippity Tappity tap, tap, tap, gunmetal planted hard deep in temple,

‘Quiet there’s a road check ahead’ not that, but that was whispered.

Open the back, break me free. Waved on; not looking for me.

Equal amongst men who themselves reeked the butt end of fear,

And I could feel the gun come off my temple and stroke about my ear.

‘Kneel! No round the other way’ tugged my lead head smashed back,

the perfect time to pray. Pain is my companion I clench close,

‘Take off the sack, stare at the door, yer’ getting out, we need you no more.

Did they miss the trade? Was the hanging Christmas beef the only order?

On my count jump, eyes ahead or the men on the street will see you dead.

Not that but that was said and I didn’t look back but up and thanked the lord instead.