by Annette Marie Skade
Before they were demolished the tennies were rough,
drug dealers on the stairwells mopped by the women,
rubbish tipped down chutes to the rats on the bins,
bonfires on the tarmac between the blocks. A toddler
dressed like a doll in a fun-fur jacket, pokes a stick
into a puddle iridescent from oil leak, a kid pounds
a ball against the end wall. Overnight any car
not from here gets the tyres taken off. The dark
is a rag to smear a woman’s screaming, on July
the twelfth echoes to “Come out, you Fenian bastards!”
The old girl on the ground floor is robbed again,
heads shake in the street about robbing your own.
She's on the council list for grilles on her windows, calls
the bizzies to come from the copshop round the corner,
they never arrive because they just can't be arsed.
One year later these cops will turn out in force, chase
the looters who thought the riots were Christmas,
grabbed tellies and fridges out of smashed up shops.
Walkways turn to battlements: old TVs, car batteries,
bricks and rubble are missiles to hurl onto the same
police who had yanked an unsuspecting black kid
off the back of a moped, picked him out for nothing
because they fancied a laugh, roughed him up
so bad his own mother wouldn’t know him.
tennies = tenements