Piers are stepping-stones
out of this world, a line of poetry
flung out to sea on a whim,
a dazzle of sea lights
glimpsed between floorboards.

For 50p you can study eternity
through a telescope
and never have to go there,
only promenade to nowhere and back
in an atmosphere of ice cream

We used to take the speedboat ride
between the two piers,
pulling the canvas up to our chins
when the spray flew in our faces.
Now we stand and stare

at the remains of our innocence,
twisted girders piled up
in a heap of dead holidays,
while Brighton limps out to sea
on its one good leg.


There it is over there,
a little rusty island moored off-shore,
the empty cage of its dome
lying lower in the water
every time I come down.
Where are the luminous dolphins
on the merry-go-round?
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West?

We could have saved the old pier,
but we gave it away to the crabs
and put up a giant pogo-stick
on the seafront,
a middle finger to its memory.
Now only seagulls cry
in what’s left of the concert hall,
only storms shift the scenery.

It sinks below the horizon,
a black and tangled sunset
surrounded by bubbles.
Madame Esmeralda, gypsy fortune-teller,
presses her lips to the glass
of her waterlogged cubicle
and gurgles her apologies
for getting it all so wrong.

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