Primrose Hill

The name's too good to be true.
For a start, Superballs were banned;
I was never any good at flicking cards,

and so lost my favourite,
about an Earthling tortured to death
with a Martian telephone.

The supersonic boom was exciting
at first, but broke no windows, so
the boys went back to playing Zulu

and the girls showed their knickers
doing handstands on the other side of the wall.
My best friend was Barbara, but the rule about not

talking was enforced by the same dragon
you didn't show your plate to,
if you had any sense.

Cochineal was made from crushed
beetles, as everyone knew,
but we still went around with red mouths.

They were probably right about the Superballs:
Mine broke a blue and silver vase in Flat 5,
7 Prince Albert Road. GULliver 2770.

That night, I listened to the wolves, and the
explosions at 10:15 as Cyrano de Bergerac
got his come-uppance in the open air theatre.

© Peter Howard

first published in the Dulwich Poetry Competition Anthology 1996