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LAWRENCE PETTENER

Three poems


Moon Landing

I wanted to feel connected; I wanted
to stay up to hear it, live,
on the radiogram; my dad sent me to bed.

That square at the top of the stairs’ first flight,
(several large steps down from the bedroom,
for a five-year-old), became my own moon landing
in the light that glanced in through the window
from up there; there where they had just touched down.
Arm outstretched, I tried to reach it.

Next day, a moon-shard
lay on the sheet of the sky as though it had fallen there,
like a piece of torn-off fingernail.


Yellow Card

There were too few colours where we grew up;
the only fields were waste ground, full of dog shit
and broken glass

and you had to walk miles to see some green.
The sky wasn’t all that different.
When my Dad came home from the pub
on a Saturday, with the first colour telly
in our street

the neighbours all came in to ogle that deep
Goodison green, and two clearly different strips.
All eyes

were on Tommy Smith; as he scored
another goal, there was one more knock
on our front door.

My Mum, my brother and the others stared
from my Dad to the telly and back again,
as the black and white policemen

came in and switched it off,
unplugged it, picked it up
and cautioned him.


An Overview of Liverpool’s Architecture

As a child, I never took in Siege City’s
architecture; with local meat-heads,
a straight look in the eye meant fuck or die,
so you didn’t look up around the borstal crew.

We reckoned nothing; we looked nowhere,
at no one; we were on about nowt. We
studied silence like Tibetan Buddhists
did, eyes down and at angles.

Later, they shot films here; streets that
looked and smelled of blood. The film we saw
instead was that gliding one, mosaic
of broken glass, a fascia binding the city’s unity.

It held together with spit, blood, puke and dogshit.
The lives we lived were kaleidoscoped there,
and sometimes treasure glowed: coins, hairclips, fag-ends,
elastic bands; bank-notes even, once every now and then.

My legs were long enough to reach the ground,
but only just about; something always stopped me
from making an impression there. I glid,
for years, higher than the city’s four cathedrals.



Lawrence Pettener lives in Malaysia’s Klang Valley, where he is a full-time writer, proofreader and copy-editor. Recent poems appear in Eksentrika, Voice & Verse (Hong Kong) and The New European (hard copy, UK). His book reviews and interviews appear in The Star newspaper, Malaysia. Lawrence’s latest collection is May All Beings Rock (Lulu, 2017). Poems published here are from the forthcoming collection, The Pettener Book of Third World War Poetry.