(after Horace, Epode I, Ibis Liburnis)
Shopkeeper, posh in pearls you ride in plush, hired charas
among your customers, poor as church mice.
Armed with a quip for the driver, you take the mike,
give your instructions.
What would we do without you? we’d not leave the street.
You take over, and you make us forget
the cheaper cuts of meat; the rent we haven’t paid;
(when we’ve saved enough to cover our separate days),
then we go along with your suggestions
to learn about the world.
We head out. Across Victoria Bridge
and the inescapable railway line.
To the crumbling cliffs of Scarborough’s furthest bay;
without a care, we follow you.
You wonder why somebody as reserved as us
should want to join you on your trip
Truth is, we’re better being taken for a ride,
because if we stay at home we’ll worry
that tongues will wag and jibe
or gossip about who we think we are.
They can’t whisper if we’re with them!
So yes, we’ll gladly join you on the coach
to fill the empty space.
Don’t load any extra brown ale
just for us,
although we’ll probably be ready for a drink
by the time we hit the moor road into Whitby.
We don’t want to impose on you; we’ll bring our own.
We won’t make pigs of ourselves.
Your ingenuity has given us enough –
We won’t take the experience
and bury it at the back of our minds
or treat it like just another day.