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2 July 2012

The Last Chance Saloon


















It's nearly closing time, and in the drab Last Chance Saloon
Old Father Time removes his bails, the Reaper strokes his scythe;
Around them, sipping absinthe from their dirt-encrusted spoons,
While No One Here Gets Out Alive's the jukebox's only tune;
The wretches sprawl, the damned, defeated, doomed, discarded, dumb,
The obsolete, extinct, ignored, the long-forgotten ones:

The lectors, liftmen, linkboys, and the men who lit the lamps,
Gestetner operators and the gentlemanly tramps,
French onion sellers, cobblers, milkmaids, girls who plaited straw,
Switchboard operators, bus conductors, and there's more,
Point duty coppers, rag and bone men, ostlers, usherettes,
Mudlarks, circus ringmasters and vamps with cigarettes,
Matrons, A.A. Roadmen, shorthand typists, and oh look,
Squashed together mutely in the dark and dismal nooks
Sit pale, bemused librarians with boxes of old books.