The Retail Park

i.

He had the dates
1914 ~ 1918
shouldered (?) on the side of his cab bit
at the front on the door and an airbrushed picture
of a face beneath it that had been done
very nicely
It had the air of an airbrushed
illustration of a Disney character
or the Terminator on the side
or some waltzers at a travelling fair
set up in the rubble wasteland next to the
race-course car-park.

The soldier’s face was painted very brave.
Very brave, it was a realist depiction.
The lorry was strong; its driver was brave.
The man was very strong and brave,
like a lorry, remembered like a lorry.
The British soldier looked very strong, brave
and smart
and the lorry driver
in the blue glow of the LED lights behind him
that spelt out DAF
which is the name of the lorry manufacturer
was very proud.

ii.

Outside the supermarket next to the roundabout
the man pushed a pram with his shopping
strapped into the seat and his eyes
focused intensely on mine for a second.
His t-shirt rode up over his guts
in his mouth was a device
that looked a bit like what we
used to call a plastic applicator.
It was in fact a smokeless anti-
smoking nicotine device. And
he dropped his gaze after a
second or so and kept walking
the plastic tube puffing in his
lips puffing and puffing and he
never pulled it out just smoking
on the tube pushing the pram seat
that bulged downwards with bags
for as long as I watched him pushing
and pulling and rolling and sucking
the tube in his mouth with every
breath because he was quitting smoking,
he was taking control of his life with a quit smoking
aid, using a quit smoking aid
taking control and it was no
longer unhealthy because it
wasn’t a cigarette it wasn’t
smoking and it was actually
good he was taking control
and it was actually good
it wasn’t burning it wasn’t
a cigarette it was actually
good and with every breath
he was completely in control.

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