On East Street, Bedminster
East Street Police Station, Bedminster, Bristol, was closed
down in 1972 after being in use since 1821.
Cold stone slabs, engraved with years of grime,
supporting crumbling, stuccoed walls, touched
by the dirt of years and echoes of man.
Green paint is peeling now from timbered wall,
to hang, suspended, in some vulgar limbo,
giving my memories a final smear.
How many men have worked in uniformed rank
behind the elbow-polished wooden desk,
casting suspicious eyes on painted strumpet;
mixing pity with unenvied self-disgust, to
keep the drunk here, bedded one more night.
How many eyes have watched the hours go by,
relentlessly scratched on lime-washed walls.
Laughter too has held its place here,
Along with the faces of visiting friends.
Now nought but empty rooms, and the grey shroud
Of dust that’s settled on the damp and musty rooms;
Only the sounds of sleek grey rats
As they chew at life’s long-dead umbilical cord.
© 1969 : Colin Gordon-Farleigh
This poem is one of a collection first published in 1978 under the title Flight of a Bee by Gazebo Books (Pty) Ltd., Salisbury, Rhodesia. Flight of a Bee was published again in 2006 by Voice Publications, 33 Balfour Street, Runcorn, Cheshire, WA7 4PH, UK, and is available by post, priced £4.95 or online.
The prominent UK poet, the late Richard Ball, was the Desk Sergeant at East Street Police Station, Bedminster, Bristol when I first met up with him in 1968. Following its closure he retired to Llansantffraidd ym Mechain in Powys, spending the remainder of his life glorying in the power of words and the pen.