Uncle Jim saved his soul using bitter and Senior Service –
Gill with ballet and bath salts; grandad
painted dustbins a filthy jaundiced puce
in the back alley’s tender grime; cousin
Grusha saved what she could by giving up sex –
‘too messy’. Praying
at the door of the dark house on Joshua Street,
echoes of Socrates’ great jokes
down Yates’ flood the back-room bar
and tigerish eardrums of the hymn singers
at St Bartholomew’s
– the petition strays and fades nowhere.
Saving souls is, as Miss Moxey said, all we ever do,
even if we call it something else,
like money, or the grand national, or dying.

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