ODE TO THE PENNY GAFFS

spoken word performance with accompaniment from a 1970s portable church organ, 

Camberwell College of Arts, 2020

the last of the Penny Gaffs

is crammed between two piano keys.

 

two compressing histories 

squeezing 1p anarchies,

the gaff the gap between

from out which images splutter

 

for four thousand feet.

 

slot a one-pence piece in the crack,

and the keys unlock. 

the doors open,

something spills -

 

forty-odd minutes of touchable time

squatting in a converted shop-front.

 

our cinema!

a penny for a ticket

and a ticket for 

the clicking of

 

a rickety projector kit

an electric spectre fit

 

in a garden shed

 

hear the piano, 

soaked in 

Entro-piano-vercrowded crevices

 

saccharine flicks fractured into

the dog-eared prints of 

a picture-palace

without monarchy;

 

only an anarchic

Penny Showman

still spouting 

mangled Shakespeare 

in amongst 

broken junk film.

 

an uneasy policeman in the corner

onlooks discordant lawlessness 

amidst the chaos 

of a raucus audience

 

singing unliscenced songs

for muted pictures 

 

Friday’s “abode of anarchists”

is Saturday’s sanctuary 

for the spectators

 

Keeping hold of their hats

Before the wind sweeps

away arrays of 

forgotten faces 

peeling and reels, reeling still 

from the bellowing din

Of an Accordion 

to popular belief,

 

he stretched his reels five times a day

over the hotbed nickelodeon 

remembered in analogue blotches,

and celluloid residue 

staining the keys.