By Tony Harrison

James Cagney was the one up both our streets.
His was the only art we ever shared.
A gangster film and choc ice were the treats
that showed about as much love as he dared.
He’d be my own age now in ’49!
The hand that glinted with the ring he wore,
his father’s, tipped the cold bar into mine
just as the organist dropped through the floor.
He’s on the platform lowered out of sight
to organ music, this time on looped tape,
into a furnace with a blinding light
where only his father’s ring will keep its shape.
I wear it now to Cagney’s on my own
And sense my father’s hands cupped round my treat –
they feel as though they’ve been chilled to the bone
from holding my ice cream all through White Heat.

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