We used to raid the freezer
in that dirty garage but cement
and dust made him cough.

His mother was a puritan;
he'd sniff and splutter when upset,
dance defiant on the car roof
then run off to town
giving her two fingers.

Winter mornings across ice,
spitting steamy gobs
through a face-hole in wool
with pink-pale knees shivering
out of coarse grey socks
and after he died
the school doctor said
I'd developed a resistance.

Wouldn't need that second jab
like all the rest of them.

John Short was born in Liverpool and studied comparative religion at Leeds University and creative writing at the Liverpool Centre for Continuing Education. He later spent some years in Europe doing different jobs. Poems and stories have appeared in many magazines including Prole, Orbis, Frogmore Papers, Obsessed with Pipework