September in Great Yarmouth

By Derek Mahon

A woodwind whistles down the shore
piping the stragglers home; the gulls
snaffle and bolt their final mouthfuls.
Only the youngsters call for more.

Chimneys breathe and beaches empty,
everyone queues for the inland cold —
middle-aged parents growing old
and teenage kids becoming twenty.

Now the first few spots of rain
spatter the sports page in the gutter.
Council workmen stab the litter.
You have sown and reaped; now sow again.

The band packs in, the banners drop,
the ice-cream stiffens in its cone.
The boatman lifts his megaphone:
‘Come in, fifteen, your time is up.’


By kind permission of the Estate of Derek Mahon and The Gallery Press, Loughcrew, Oldcastle, County Meath, Ireland from The Poems: 1961-2020 (2021).