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Summer 1966

That summer they arrived every night
fresh from digs and a hasty meal,
ordering Guinness or pints of beer,
thirsty after a hard day’s graft
working the lump for sub-contractors
digging ditches and laying pipes.

That summer in The Earl Darby,
Victorian pub on Kilburn’s High Road,
they talked of another life gleaned
from the pages of The Clare Champion or
The Limerick Leader, of hurling and football,
of distant parishes and youthful encounters.

That summer in this Irish cocoon,
fortified by whisky and vodka and rum,
they laughed and shouted and argued
about a home that was not home
in this place they thought was purgatory
before their eventual return to Eden.

That summer they drank steadily
day after day till the money ran out.
Then back to the building sites
for more of the same in an endless
downward spiral to oblivion.
A life sentence without reprieve
for the navigators who had lost their way.

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