Structure and Language
The poem consists of a single stanza of 24 lines. The lines are pentameters (they have ten syllables each).
- Some of the vocabulary is very 'northern' - the phrase "slathers his daft mush" is particularly suggestive of Armitage's Yorkshire roots.
- The rhyme in the phrase "town clown" contributes to the creation of a comic image, before telling us not to laugh.
- This is a strongly visual poem. The simile of "a basket of washing that got up and walked, towing a dog on a rope" conjures a shambolic person. The structure of the sentence mirrors the way the dog walks behind the clown punk.
- Armitage makes the reader re-imagine a heavily tattooed body. The man's skin is an image all of its own, made up of "every pixel". But the poem stops us from reacting with fear, as we might typically; instead we are encouraged to think sympathetically of how such a person will look in old age, when the tattoos become "sad".
- Vocabulary to do with art or painting - "ink", "daubed" and "dyed" - permeates the poem in the same way that tattoos puncture the man's skin, so that the ink has sunk even into his "brain". Is there a pun here with 'died'?
- It is striking that although the tattoo ink…