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Heard the crunching footsteps,
Heard the beat of drums, a giant's heartbeat.
Twilight, and the gas lamps were being lit.
The cobbled street was sweating
From the constant drizzle.
Shops were closed and boarded.
Pockets of people huddled in doorways.
Footsteps and drums now louder,
More insistent - threatening.
I left my bike against a wall
And stood in the middle of the street.
Someone called me from an upstairs window,
It was the jeweller's daughter.
She was always pestering me.
She was ok
Just a shame about her looks.
She was frantically pointing,
From her position she could see they were coming.
I ignored her, with an unexplainable dread.
Steps and drums in rhythm,
Deafening, encroaching, predatorial.
The sky flashed crimson,
Momentarily painting the street
In that instant
The trumpets, bugles, cornets and the rest,
Shrieked into life.
A pocketful of people
Half heartedly cheered,
Some I noticed
A pony and trap appeared first
Black pony, black trap
The driver was tall, dressed in black
With a black top hat.
He whipped the pony with passion
And a skeletal grin.
Followed by the marchers.
Kids like me, my age
Except they had skills
Parents who could afford
To have the newspapers I delivered.
The bugle boys and girls
Marched like automatons.
I stepped to the pavement.
Tears and drizzle
Make for a salty cocktail.
Then the men, all fat and proud,
The ones that couldn't play bugle
Old banners that proclaimed
Stuff I didn't understand.
Their ruddy cheeks bounced
In time to the march.
Tonight they'd get drunk
At the Old Duck
Then go home and beat their wives
And tomorrow morning beat their kids.
Then on pay day
Buy their kids a new bugle
To replace the one he'd snapped in half.
A lady emerged running from a doorway
Stooped, with headscarf,
Keeping up with bannerman
She pinned a flower to his coat.
I decided to leave
Took my bike
And pushed it away,
With the dying day.
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