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Saturday 6 April 2013
Are you Al Capone, by any chance?
From front door to the road
a biting North East wind
cuts into me.
A left turn brings relief.
Another left, I'm on the square,
the wind's behind me now.
But facing me:
a young boy -- ten, maybe;
or eight; or somewhere in between --
sits on a bollard
nursing a new, shiny Tommy Gun.
Never mind your AK-47 or whatever,
this is World War II
or Prohibition vintage.
He looks like some old brigand
guarding a high pass. He's coatless
and faced into the strong North Easter
quite impassively. An older boy
appears with football in his hands.
The brigand shakes his head -- and gun.
Its barrel points the long way round.
He does as he is told.
In the shop the papers are delayed.
The shop is crowded. Next to me,
a small boy in a Teddy Bear type coat.
From one of its deep pockets
he takes a soldier. Stands it on the counter.
He's the captain. "Is he now?"
I smile. "Important guy!"
Shot five hundred enemy!
"That was good work."
Got himself a medal! "Right!"
He puts the soldier in his other pocket.
Replaces it with one who's lying prone.
This one's dead... His voice begins to fade,
I don't hear all he says from this point on,
but know I'm being told the histories
of all the men in his battalion.
Then back outside. Two older boys on scooters
(Could be paper boys)
get the now familiar treatment,
take the long way round.
I pass the bandit.
"Who are you then, Al Capone?"
(Knowing he'll know nothing of such figures
plucked from history.)
Nah, he replies, I'm Che Guevara!