HOUSTON, TEXAS HARKER
People don’t believe me when I tell them
that my great great granddad was from Houston, Texas,
and in honour of the town of his conception and birth
was called Houston, Texas Harker, comma and all.
He would swagger down Armley Town Street
in his ten gallon hat, stepping un-necessarily into the gutter
for any passing lady, frightening housewives
into the nearest available doorway with his alligator-skin boots
and his colt .38 and his spurs clicking and springing
on the York stone flags.
No-one believes me. They’ve never seen my dad go snake-eyed
in the Groom when Leeds lose at home (which they do often);
they’ve never seen him, mountain man that he is,
sleep out on the lawn under the stars, under the streaming meteors.
They didn’t see my great great grandmother meet his eye
one rainy Thursday afternoon in 1889 as he led his horse
up to Charlie Cake Park, how she stuck her thumbs
in her mustard-coloured corduroy waistcoat and blocked his path
and demanded: “Houston, Texas? Houston, Texas Harker?”