Where new writing finds its voice

Public House

Helen Mort

As if I’d seen them naked, last night’s drunks
who leaned across the bar to speak quite frank
have pulled their hoods over their heads like monks
and quicken when they see me by the bank,
walk past without a word; forgetting how
they lingered after closing, last to leave,
and told me things they didn’t know till now.
Today, the morning rain is their reprieve,
but come tonight, they’ll greet me like old friends
again, and straighten shirts their wives have cleaned.
They’ll call for whisky till the bitter end,
square up in turn around the quiz machine.
They’ll crack their knuckles as they walk through town.
Is this what’s meant, then, by another round?