Poem introduction

I was once in New York on St. Patrick's Day when all the shennanigans go on and I started to wonder, given the number of English people living in New York, what it would be like if they tried to celebrate St. George's Day in the same style.

The Twang

The Twang

Well it was St George's Day in New York.
They'd dyed the Hudson with cochineal and chalk.
Bulldogs were arse-to-mouth in Central Park.
Mid-town, balloons drifted up, red and white streamers

flowed like plasma and milk. The Mayor on a float on Fifth,
resplendent, sunlight detonating on his pearly suit.
The President followed, doing the Lambeth Walk.
It was an election year on both counts. In the Royal Oak

boiled beef was going for a song. Some Dubliner
played along, came out with cockney rhyming-slang,
told jokes against his own and spoke of cousins twice removed
from Islington, which made him one of us.

A paper dragon tripped down Lexington, its tongue
truly forked. Two hands thrust from its open throat:
in the left, a red rose; in the right, a collection box
for the National Trust. I mean the National Front.


from The Universal Home Doctor (Faber & Faber, 2004), copyright © Simon Armitage 2004, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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