A piece about working a waking night in a residential children's home, a job I did for almost 9 years until 2007.
North Manchester, a night sliced wide
By rain for poor folk, wet like oil,
Dark as soot. Behind the bins a fox
Is chattering horribly & madly at itself,
Alarms howl in & out, sirens
Dot the borders of my hearing, wearily.
Shaun prowls the corridors like something
From The Shining, Malcolm
Hugs a monitor, destroying zombies with
A blur of calloused, practiced fingertips,
Samantha's out there, somewhere, missing
But not lost to anyone except herself.
Stephanie's on the run on bail
That's endless, a puff of dust at 15 years,
Craig begs rhythmically in sleep
That's not been sleep since he was 8
& overhead, upstairs, a stereo
Tattoos dull bass beats for the lonely & the late.
Two staff lounge in the office, soaking up
An O.U. course on Basic French
While I check each floor, each girning door,
Arrange some files, write brief & meaningless
Reports on what the 'children' did
Or wouldn't do today, & any other day,
& won't tomorrow, as they'll no doubt say.
By fag nineteen, coffee number ten &
Another risk assessment clear as mud,
The umpteenth poor attempt at blocking out
Life histories which should only now begin,
I must admit defeat, that I won't
Make that difference, influence a life,
Inspire a writer, scientist, explorer,
Football star to escape & change the world,
Any world. Why despair, when they
Don't even want to change their underwear?
Shaun yawns me out the door at eight
With See you tonight you baldie cunt...
Before he gives in to the struggle, goes
To bed & sleeps another day away
In a life filled, up to now, with nights.