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Friday, 2 September 2011

HERCULES STREET, THE STREET OF BUTCHERS

Note: Royal Avenue in Belfast was once called Hercules Street. It was dominated by butchers' shops.  This poem was written in the late 1970s, a troubled time.


The gob spit on their palms bubbled,
each man with his own trust juice
slapping hands in solid contracts,
expected, fair, untroubled.


At the other end of the street
thrifty wives with a duty
to cook their husbands hot dinners
watched fairly clean hands cut meat.


Forty seven butchers shops lined
the bustling, quaint thoroughfare,
the whole city astir and noisy -
rush, gossip, traffic combined.


Trading rivals aimed to compete -
innkeeper, baker, grocer,
cork-cutter, yarn-spinner, blacksmith,
all out of place on the meat street.


It was a time in Belfast's life,
but the bubbling juice is now blood
in these days of little jostle,
of bang, boom, siren, drum and fife.

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