Paint Shop

Craned onto the site from a truck 

the ten-by-ten corrugated steel cube, 

our paint shop. Nothing for sale 

but a magnet for kids: bricked, 

scorched, clambered upon, adorned 

Stoke, Vale, obscenities from spray cans. 

Inside the door, an Alsatian’s head  

in sagging red gloss welcomes you

to a throat-seizing reek of turps, 

linseed and propane. Bowed shelving 

to the left and right and straight ahead 

an old door on two empty tea chests –

our prep bench – strewn with rock-hard rags,

clogged wire brushes, clotted stir sticks.

Underneath two five-gallon drums of gunk, 

and the piss can. We referred to it 

by its nameplate above the door: 

Torton Strong Box, and down the months

more affectionately as the Torton – 

our lightning-proof protector of paint 

for gutters, soil pipes and railings.