Poetry After the Beatles

Damian Furniss's poem celebrates Liverpool on the fiftieth anniversary of The Beatles' debut album, Please Please Me


Liverpool stares out New York
as if the Mersey doesn’t end
where it tips into the Irish Sea
but deep veins the Atlantic shale
and throws up in Hudson Bay,

hung up on cotton and slaves
and vinyl the spin-offs of slaves
cut and canned, their grooves

a trade for a jump on the docks
in blue jeans that cry America!

John and Paul on the Cast Iron Shore
Manhattan sand beneath their feet
skimming stones at sheets of tin:

the walls of Jericho come tumbling down
in a din they call America!

America, where even busboys
own swimming pools, the cars
are big as buses, jelly babies

are flavoured a thousand shades,
and babies weaned on the blues.

America, the land Chuck sold to Elvis
and Elvis sold on to the Beatles

and the Beatles sold back to America
with a grin and a tapered-in suit
kicking from the heel of a Chelsea boot

and into America: the lion’s mouth

of the Coliseum is ready to roar,
Idlewild has laid out the tongue

of its asphalt carpet, and teens

scent something to sink their teeth in.

America, where Klansmen burn effigies
of the men they’re growing into,
where Jesus looks like the men
they’ll become, when becoming
more like Jesus is the new religion.

If they have a dream, let’s call it
America, where their stories end,
as the story of America has to end,
stalked by a disease there’s no cure for,
within you or without you.


Extracted from Newspaper Taxis: Poetry After the Beatles, out now, published by Seren.