Needler Hall, the University of Hull
Woken at four to the sound of jazz
coming from his room on the floor above,
as he opens the door and slips out.
The flop of moth-eaten brocade slippers
along the corridor. The knock. ‘Come in.’
He stands in the doorway plain as a wardrobe.
‘Sorry to . . . Unearthly hour . . .’
He stays just on the edge of vision,
‘Thought you might be able to help.’
There is no escape. The curtain-edges grow light
and the room takes shape. ‘Work has to be done.
What year was the Beatles’ first LP?’
‘Nineteen sixty-three,’ I mumble.
‘ABBAB. Excellent.’ And he is gone.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Roger McGough is the president of the Poetry Society and presents the BBC Radio 4 programme Poetry Please.