Craig Dobson: En Famille

Dad didn’t drink, gamble, cheat on or beat
Mum who, like him, worked hard to pay
for the pronunciation that made me

safe as the detached houses down our way,
whose ordered front borders never displayed
a bricked-up, rusting Cortina or Capri.

Our relatives lived in Eastbourne.
Once in a beige moon we’d go there,
in an excess of M & S knitwear,

to catch up on the forgettable.
The problem, you see – no wild blood:
no Celt or Romany,

no ancestral misdeed
or family secret’s regrettable seed
spilled from the past as an unforgiving

stranger – a Cockney, Commie, bent, black,
drag or addict: a half-us, half-rhyme, haunting
shade of danger – who’d only ever call

in, drunk, to borrow money, argue, steal things;
ruin the family gatherings
or – so typical – not bother to show at all.