Runcible Spoon

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                            HOUSTON, TEXAS HARKER



People don’t believe me when I tell them

that my great great granddad was from Houston, Texas,

and in honour of the town of his conception and birth

was called Houston, Texas Harker, comma and all.


He would swagger down Armley Town Street

in his ten gallon hat, stepping un-necessarily into the gutter

for any passing lady, frightening housewives

into the nearest available doorway with his alligator-skin boots

and his colt .38 and his spurs clicking and springing

on the York stone flags.


No-one believes me. They’ve never seen my dad go snake-eyed

in the Groom when Leeds lose at home (which they do often);

they’ve never seen him, mountain man that he is,

sleep out on the lawn under the stars, under the streaming meteors.

They didn’t see my great great grandmother meet his eye

one rainy Thursday afternoon in 1889 as he led his horse

up to Charlie Cake Park, how she stuck her thumbs

in her mustard-coloured corduroy waistcoat and blocked his path

and demanded: “Houston, Texas? Houston, Texas Harker?”