Still bloated from turkey the crowds from the station
Spill out on The Strand this last night of the year,
Their voices raised over the hustle and bustle
Are amplified thrice by the whisky and beer.
The streets well illumined, the evening long banished,
Some make for the Garden, some drift to the Square:
Coarse shouts drowned by laughter ’midst kissing of strangers,
A curtain of hope seems to hang in the air.
Girls munching on hot dogs, high spirited denimed youths
Knock back the lager, spray string by the can,
Blue uniforms milling around by the barriers
Gently enforcing the alcohol ban.
The few trouble-makers admonished or cautioned,
But only arrested should quiet reason fail,
The steamers and dippers...scant are the detested,
And most of these traced to excesses of ale.
Come midnight, euphoria welling up over all,
Louder and louder the voices are raised,
Ephemeral zeitgeist, uncompromised dreamers
Twelve hours from now will be reeling and dazed.
Good will to all brothers and sisters whatever
Their creed, race, religion or class, then they spill
Back onto the streets where next day they’ll continue
To cheat and to hustle, to steal and to kill.
(January 1, 1988)
[The above was first published in Wrong Side Of The River.]
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