Within these wall lie scant rewards for sinning,
The Leveller has reaped his toll of each,
Dice players all, the lure of promised winning
Is honoured here, but only in the breach.

The junkie writhing in fits of cold turkey,
Expunging sleep for both men in his cell,
“Never again!” he swears this habit murky
Will turn his life into a living hell.

Such promises he know are made for breaking,
As do the burglar and the petty thief,
Each man will give his solemn undertaking,
And each in turn will come to further grief.

The pusher and the con man and the kiter,
The vagrant and the drunkard also-ran,
Some do their bird with heavy heart, some lighter,
And some do life on the instalment plan.


[Bird was first published in PIPELINE: VOICES FROM INSIDE BRIXTON, FEBRUARY 1997, page 14]

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