Friday Poem – ‘The Park in the Afternoon’ by Dai George


This week’s Friday Poem is ‘The Park in the Afternoon’ by Dai George from his collection Karaoke King.

The cover of Karaoke King shows a drawing of a teenage boy wearing a red and brown stripped vest and white shirt. His glasses are crooked and he is wearing a crumpled yellow crown.

Dai George’s confident second collection Karaoke King, addresses the contentious nature of the times. Always deeply thoughtful but also alternately ebullient, angry, curious, ashamed, the poet moves through urban and digital spaces feeling both uneasy and exhilarated. There is a feeling of history shifting, as a younger generation confronts its ethical obligations, its sense of complicity and disappointment. Ecological crisis hovers in the background. Karaoke King also contains numerous reflections on popular culture, culminating in ‘A History of Jamaican Music’, a sequence at the heart of the volume speaking to urgent contemporary questions of ownership and privilege, pain and celebration. 

The Park in the Afternoon
By the goats, a high-vis warden
tweezers litter with glacial care.
Men bear tins of Scrumpy Jack aloft
to salute Ol’ Blue Eyes as he spreads
the news from a battered tape machine.
Their conductor lies down in the grass
crafting languorous signals from a spliff.
On the lunchtime news, a minister
reviled my productivity:
sleepwalking into a crisis
is how he described the nation’s plight
when output fails to tack with growth.
Watching a duckling wobble afloat
as sun glints, useless, on the pond,
I see his point. Diverse and splendid
things have brought us here, we heathens
in the Christendom to come. The drunk,
the retired, the roistering lads
bunking off early with blazer sleeves
riding up their arms – each of us
truant, and gentle for an hour,
our output no more than
what we can make
of the angle of
hurried daylight before
a shower.

Karaoke King is available on the Seren website: £9.99

Create your free Seren account and enjoy 20% off every book you buy direct from us.

Catch Dai George reading from Karaoke King alongside Ilse Pedler, Sarona Abuaker & Jeremy Dixon at Seren Cardiff Poetry Festival on Friday 29th July in Published During the Pandemic. Tickets are on sale here www.cardiffpoetryfestival.com/tickets-22.

Earlier this year, Dai George put together a playlist of songs that tie in with poems from Karaoke King. Take a look here.

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