Jack Houston – The Estate Is Dreaming of Better Things

The Estate is Dreaming of Better Things

Next door bought their flat a while ago.
Just to know it were theirs I suppose.
Put a new door on. Just that now,
what with the new coffee shop
and everything, well, they’ve sold it.

Time was you couldn’t pay people
to live round here. Frontline* right
in front of the bookies. It’s still there,
the bookies – ever popular, but now
next door’s an antiques shop.

Me Granddad liked a bet, enjoyed a fag
and all. Like a chimney he was, but then
the doctors said they were gonna have his legs
off at the knees, both. And that was him,
stuck, in his wheelchair. Me pushing.

He liked to be up Hapsburg Hill. ‘Come on, Liam.
Let’s make it to the top! Quick-sharp!’

He’d have his stick out, aloft,
and I’d be dying behind, trying
to get up the slope. View was always worth it.

Not sure what mum can do. She can’t afford to buy
and leave her one to us, so dunno about me and Em.
We’ve got another one

on the way but are still way down
the list. And as for a private-rent well,

nowadays you need proper money
to do that round here. Crazy numbers
being bandied. Everyone’s off

like rats from a stricken ship, ‘cept these rats
are floating off with a bounty in their mouths.

All plying a dream. Fair play
to them, I say. Like that king,
whatshisname. You know, the one what turned
everything to gold with a touch.
Don’t think that ended too well though.

* Frontline: a place known for the buying and selling of illicit substances.
Although they recently had to have Ralph’s testicles removed after the dog got into one too many fights, Jack Houston and his partner have had a baby, so they don’t feel so bad about it. He is also a poetry editor at nutshellmagazine.com and works within Hackney’s library service.
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