Strand Cinema Poem

SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES

for John McBride Neill

 

There was the Savoy and Lyceum,

the Majestic and Colosseum,

the Regal and the Roxy,

the Tonic and the Troxy,

the Princess and the Pallidrome,

the Alhambra and Hippodrome.

Great picture palaces,

art deco and glass,

velvet and brass,

where the poor of Belfast

could feel like stars

for a night.

 

And the Strand,

sailing up the Holywood Road

like a great ocean liner,

where my grandmother

took a flask of tea and sandwiches

to Gone With The Wind,

and my father watched

Flash Gordon and Roy Rodgers,

and rode an imaginary

Trigger the two miles home.

 

Now the Lido is a chapel,

the Metro sells fried chicken

the Apollo, a Chinese supermarket,

and the Alpha, a loyalist drinking den.

 

But the Strand,

where my father

saw Flash kiss Dale,

and my grandmother

saw Rhett kiss Scarlet,

where I kissed a girl badly

in the back row, five minutes

before the film ended,

 

the Strand

still stands.

still stands.

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