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Paul Harris Poetry                                                                               Return to Poetry page


The Black Hat Speaks

Every Saturday morning you went to the flicks
The cowboy film would come on. You knew me.
You waited for me. I excited you. Admit it.
But you despised me. You saw me as the representative of evil.
You wanted my death.  You cheered it on.
Yes, I was the man in the black hat who
Leched (clumsily) for the heroine, bullied the weak
Killed without compunction those who opposed me -
-Or simply annoyed me, and was probably (unnecessarily)
Cruel to my horse, and enjoyed branding my cows’ arses.
And we now know it is primitive stereotyping
To suggest that black means bad; and there might be good
And valid scientific reasons why wearing black
Is a great way of absorbing heat and helping us to
Avoid skin cancer and promote healthy weight loss.
You try it though. Wearing a black hat in the desert sun
Never shaving. Never bathing (only Clint as hero did that)
Drinking nothing but whisky (yes, without paying)
Eating baked beans out of greasy tins, no greens - Jamie please note.
And fated to be killed shortly before the last reel is inserted.
Then, fuck it, to be shot down by a good guy like John Wayne
That All American super brain-dead fascist clunk white hat hero.
What an insult. We had no union though. It was Boot Hill for us.
No wives for us, no meals for us on chequered tablecloths,
Served by the docile blondes that the white hats got.
But at least we had a role then. Boot Hill beats the rest home.
Post-modernity made us redundant. No good/no bad no more.
The white hats are sodomising on Brokeback Mountain.
The black hats are confronting their racism and sexism. Forget it:
I lust to slaughter a blonde sheriff and to fuck her PC daughter.
Yowl or A Bolton Wanderers' Fan Remembers

In homage of Allen Ginsberg but dedicated to Bolton Wanderers.


“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked” Allen Ginsberg, Howl.

I saw the best minds of my generation,

(namely my own and Les Smith’s)

nearly destroyed by watching Bolton Wanderers.

I grow old I grow old. I was a Wanderers fan

Well before they won their last major trophy

Which was so long ago that I still had milk teeth

It was the 1958 FA Cup final against Man United

And I can recite all the team and the reserve striker Ralph Gubbins

If you want me to.  (No one has ever so done).

Cousin Arthur sat me on his shoulder to see my first match but

All I can remember is the smell of forty thousand Brylcreemed heads and

The fug of Woodbines in Winter. And we won, 3 -1.

I have been to York and didn’t know it had Roman ruins

To Newcastle but saw no castle just St James Park

In Milan I missed the cathedral but worshipped at San Siro

If it wasn’t for the Wanderers why else

Would you stand in the ice at Scunthorpe

Would you shiver in a shit hole called Port Vale?

I have been to the grimy arsed ends of Yorkshire

To Huddersfield, Leeds, to Hull and Halifax and if

t’Wanderers had played in Hell I would have gone there.

Almost certainly with Les Smith who before he

Became the renowned Bolton playwright

Was best known as a Wanderers fanatic.

We went to Chelsea and to Fulham

We never tried to hide our allegiance

We took some risks but the Wanderers were worth them.

After one game in London, with thirty skinhead supporters

We tried to push a broken down coach up the M1

The cops stopped us, so we fucked off to get pissed.

I’ve supported Bolton in every division they’ve been in

I‘ve never given up and I’ve never recanted

Not like the bastards who switched to Stretford United.

Now I live too far away to see a live game

I watch the Wanderers when I can on Sky TV

When we lose a game my guts still get knotted.

Fifty odd years a fan any regrets? No, none.

Except I miss going to the games with Les Smith.

I miss the booze, the dope, the danger, and Les too.

PS and the games of course

I was born under a Wanderers scarf