Neil Elder

The Langham

Each time I pass the little cinema,
that became a bowling alley
that became a supermarket
that is now a block of flats,
I play back all the films
I saw there as a child.

The romance of art deco design
coupled with a floor your feet would stick to.
Those days are light years,
a mortgage, a wife and two children
away, but it’s easy to slip back
into the darkness, to watch smokers
in the seats on the left turn the air blue-grey
while Pearl and Dean sweep away reality
before leaping off into deep space
aboard the Millennium Falcon.
Arriving back from far off galaxies
we’d blink into the afternoon.

I smoked inside cinemas when my turn came,
and now it’s that, not the special effects
I saw that really blows my mind.

I went past the old cinema today;
the films couldn’t last,
bowling didn’t wow the locals,
the supermarket couldn’t compete;
but I guess everybody needs a place to sleep.

Neil Elder has been published in a number of leading journals and magazines. His latest work is Like This from 4Word Press. His first pamphlet Codes of Conduct (Cinnamon Press) was shortlisted for a Saboteur Award, his debut collection The Space Between Us won the Cinnamon Press Debut Prize. He explores the gaps between what we think we know about ourselves and others, and what we really know. He occasionally blogs at