Coming Home in Public (Summer 2020)
Len Evans is working on his first publication of poetry with our in-house publishing company, SlapDash Publishing
Here he shares some recent work:
1 LOWRY’S NEW PARK
I stroll a full circuit just inside the fence,
just inside my surreal sense of the day. I find
and perch on a brand new, black painted bench.
I’ve walked into a painting.
He’s come further south of the city for this view,
minus the factories and smoking homes, but his
dogs are here, tails up, inquisitive. Tails down,
exhausted from runs between other dogs, birds stealing
and joggers who frighten them into another chase.
The older man, bent over, is also here, hands
behind his back, struggling like he’s walking up
a steep hill. There are mothers with buggies who
stop and talk to mothers with a similar lifestyle.
Families bustle, kids run wild, skateboarders rattle
and land, and there’s the man in the suit, into his
fifth hour of sleep, laptop for a pillow, umbrella
staking his ground.
He still captures all that is local, all that is unusually
I rise from the black bench and walk away with no
possibility of getting back to the previous life.
2 STILL IN THE PARK
The warm weekend brings a bigger and different crowd,
celebrating escaping lockdown, confused as to whether
they’ll be arrested for hugging their dogs and friends.
Today the park claims its own identity. A single man
and eight women pop champagne, spilling into white
goblets, cooking on a mobile kitchen, females obsessively
hair flicking, popping further corks for every male in
tight shorts that passes. They’ve hung out every summer
since uni, exclusively singing Girls Aloud’s Greatest Hits.
Fifty yards away, eight men and a single woman sit in a
tight circle, on a quilted blanket they all created in 2012.
The only female pushes for a dance with each man,
squawking through intoxication, biting legs, straddling,
pinning each to the ground, grinding her pubic bone against
each back. Gay Pride brought them together, fighting for
their right to stay in the open. At the end of the day it takes
a four strong team to carry her amorphous shape to the car,
accompanied by her singing, Get Out Of My Dreams
and Into My Car.
Sun worshipers worship, chain smokers break their own
outdoor records, drinkers drink ‘till poisoned, trees keep
social distance without masks. In knee length shorts
and matching vest, the coolest man in the park effortlessly
walks his new born on his front, his wife sleeps deeply
in the arms of an oak tree.
3 PARK VIEW
He doesn’t like to think why he’s left his collar at home.
He walks the park, arms fully extended with the good book
open in the palms of his hands, eyes intent on the text, then
flicking to other worlds - an undergraduate reading Conrad’s
The Secret Agent under trees, a couple on a multi-coloured,
graffited bench and men killing each other with water pistols.
He walks past a smiling infant held high in the crook of an
unidentified tree’s thickest arm. He seems not to notice the
five naked men on the café roof, working their Tai Chi routine.
With stained finger tips he brushes the biggest tree in the park.
It immediately sheds its leaves to a shocking bald. The
smashing of glass is heard somewhere nearby, the roar of the
Mississippi bursting its banks and the silence of the remotest glen.
In his hip flask there is coffee and whiskey, but greater, an
intense craving for anonymous sex like he once had for caviar.
The wind slaps him, water drips on his head from a clear blue sky,
his feet bleed.
4 WINDING DOWN WITH IMPERFECTIONS
The breeze brings relief from the sweltering, late afternoon,
plus the effortless words of lovers, leaves scurrying, cannabis
from a trio of sporty teenagers, choking my throat and burning
my eyes. But these youths are the exception. The rest of the park
needs no stimulants. There is contentment on a family blanket
for three, the interracial couple who lie in a beautiful muscular
join, the men, just married, who quietly talk about adoption with
their pasta salad and pigeons pecking from a left over banquet
without a contest. Harassment, coercion, crime, the forcing of
opinion up or down any orifice seems to belong to another
community, society, world. I sit in my fold up, canvas chair,
take note of youths’ shape and energy and decide not to judge
their imperfections too harshly.