Emily! Or should I call you diva?
You’re plain as white sliced bread, you’re bottle blonde
from East Street market, but the great deceiver,
your glitter fairy, waved her magic wand
and made you ‘Who’s that girl in pink stilettos?’
and made your long thin plait a la mode,
and dragged you from the ashes of the ghetto
to make a Mayfair of your Old Kent Road.
It isn’t the adrenaline of bingo,
the flash of cash that draws you to this place,
the rough and ready rhythm or the lingo
that brings that iridescence to your face
that made One kneel to praise you as a goddess,
that made Two rise to love you in the flesh;
it’s numbers on the cards that flaunt their oddness,
numbers that taunt you with their evenness.
Numbers our callers call and yet can’t ring,
our callers, known by number not by name.
Jailbirds, they call and call as caged birds sing.
It’s work. They’ll never play the dating game.
Each number names the debt they are repaying
in days and weeks and months. In suits and ties
and hats and shades, it looks as if they’re playing –
cuff links are merely handcuffs in disguise.
Like Sam and Dave, so tight on stage and vinyl,
in private nurturing a bitter feud,
The Blues Brothers, once blood brothers, now rivals
manage, on stage, to keep a party mood
for days, for weeks, for months. Their love’s authentic
and only love can make the ball and chain
of work seem light, and moonlighting, romantic.
Until that fateful night their shifts are changed
and Two is given Sunday morning solo
so every other Saturday, he’s free
not to hang out with punters, that’s a no no,
to wait outside the club — for Emily.
Each time the lift doors open wide he sees her
in every blonde, in every high-rise shoe,
in every girl who dreams in black and fuchsia,
in every queen…I wish that it were true.
She’s here! Her lips are shocking pink, she’s chewing.
He takes a deep breath: Chanel No.19.
He looks into her eyes, she looks straight through him,
straight through his heart. She’s gone. His skinny jeans
are hanging off his hips, his skin is sallow,
his eyes are hollow, and his voice is thin.
Oh, unrequited love! Our Two’s a shadow,
behind glass doors, outside, imagining
Emily watching One. You may well ask the
question of One’s reaction to this fate?
Rigid with jealousy, the simple answer,
imagining that Two has got a date.
So One can see his lady but can’t have her,
And Two can have her but she’s having none.
Alas, my darlings, how our heroes suffer!
Who has the greater sorrow, Two or One?