when walking home after a night on the tiles in 1997

Arm in arm they went down the lamps of youth,
these dazed boys glazed and in a blunt toothed eye
swayed the sunlight to sleep, red as Vermouth.
Their clothes were spindrift, tied up with belts. Cry
thistles in beauty of midnight’s bundled
cold tones, still as a gag, dead as Christmas.
Snow swam, ghosts on strings as the boys trundled
home in a soaked canvas, clogged blue litmus
pale, plate still street under the whiskey haze.
A stubborn soberness gripped them, a fold
of a room beyond frosted double glaze,
was that a woman dead as a black duck?
She had two vampires lingering over
her slumped, drained body, as white as clover.

Grant Tarbard