Each morning I wait for the call.
Today I’m sent to The Marquis, New Cross.
At the shop, loudmouthed punters
mill and strut on the scuffed floor
scattered with crumpled dockets
flung in frustration.
I wait behind the teller’s screen.
At starter’s orders they surge,
jeer and gesture if they don’t make it
to the till before the off.
They tone down, turn to the tannoy,
as the commentary crackles to life.
Few have studied form or the long odds
of getting to the bottom line
of an accumulator.
Reality bites as their horses lose.
By the last race the crowd is curdled,
congealing to anger.
Hands grope mine under the grille,
red faces move in close
to spit curses at the settler’s sums.
Pat, chalking up the odds on the board,
retreats behind the counter, dials 999,
as the mob gouges Formica, tears upholstery,
unanchors cemented stools.
The police lead us out the back.
Please, let tomorrow’s call
take me to Bellingham
and the pensioners’ party
of fifty pence flutters.
Ann Gibson spent her childhood in Dublin and now lives in North Yorkshire. She has published poetry in Acumen, Prole, Orbis and Ariadne’s Thread magazines as well as online in Lighten Up Online, Snakeskin, Pulsar and Ofi Press. She has an MA in Literature Studies from York St John University.