Late in the evening Alfie huddles in a shop doorway
beneath bright Christmas lights
Nearing thirty, he looks punch old.
His battered radio tuned to Metro Night Owls.
A wave of desperate voices, a distraction
from the freezing cold. Ida from Stockton remembers
people darning holes in their socks. Jim from Byker
is pissed off. He’s being sanctioned.
Vicky from Shields is looking for a Food Bank
to feed her three bairns. Alfie finds words
strangely comforting, as if back inside the army dorm
before he was kicked out, cos his head
is filled with raging nightmares and battle scars
before his mates were sent home in body bags.
By his side, a collection tin and a bottle of Bull
people walk by, he tries to catch their eye, areet darlin, smile.
He wraps himself in an old sleeping bag from the Salvo.
By the morning he will have…
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