New Brighton


An extract from New Brighton by Jennie Byrne

New Brighton


I


November 1969–

when smoke begins to pollute the air,

alerting crowds who watch

the flames melt away each brick.

Hoses dust the hollowed out black frame

of the New Brighton tower,

now shattered to pieces.


The Great Fire,

the first straw

in the fall

of New Brighton resort.


II

New Brighton,

2005–

a resort distanced from its success

thirty-six years earlier,

no longer a tourist attraction,

people,

scarce and few

visit the promenade,

looking for what isn’t there.


The River Mersey,

that separates two worlds,

now a waste disposal for unwanted evidence:

bottles, cans, coffee cups, fish, bodies, golf balls, shopping bags, trainers, trolleys, bikes,

the norm

for youthful teens

with nothing better to do.


Our ‘Miss New Brighton’ days lost

by 1989

the outdoor pool followed

after hurricane winds

caused severe damage.

The weekends spent sunbathing by the pool,

gone.


Nothing to enjoy

but the old arcades,

machines forty years old:

broken bulbs

and chrome,

rusted with brown grit,

coins stuck in the worn mechanism,

and the return button broken.


Those summer days spent at Harrison Drive,

with its breast-shaped hills

and salty-flavoured water.

The beach is now poisoned by muddy water

black like tar,

it lurks between the rocks,

gripping slipped ankles

in its gloopy grip.

Kids run along the beach,

stepping on seaweed,

as sharp as a piece of lego under your heel.