London: a mini collection

Songs of the Everyday

Below are some poems written prior to the move to Italy, collected as a little tribute and farewell to London. These poems reflect both my frustrations and regrets in those last months and weeks. I hope Londoners both present and ex will find something here that they can relate to.

London

I dip into the City,
To hear that clipped delivery
From well pressed shirts;
To see the confidently pressed hands
Conditioned with the starch of colleagues’ collars
And generously inked bills;
Those energetic walks,
Lads tailored breast to breast
So freshly stripped and striding
Towards its glittering insatiable curves.

I took the Jubilee to Waterloo.
And there I saw them sag
Under the tunnelled weight,
So many stubborn sinners
In wait in daily trepidation
Of some impending awkward horror.
And then the world is rushing past
And piling up at entrances and exits
Before those monstrous manifolds
Impede its progress to its TV dinners.

And then across the river to the Strand
I fall into the gentler press
Of holidaying crowds.
And in the bubbling rush of widened eyes
And early evening’s broken shimmers
I look to see:
Abandoned cranes in rusted bloom,
Bridges picking spindly ways through mud and water,
Amid applauded concrete baubles
Afloat on their graffiti’d pillars.

Like time-lapse film
This city churns and breathes and lives
Right there in front of me
However hard I look away.

– o –

If I may be so blunt

His voice drones through the sanctuary of the carriage.
She pipes up occasionally.

When she talks he walks his fingers
And keeps straightening his cuffs.
She digs her nails into her fingertips.

When she manages to fit a word,
He interrupts and interjects and overtakes,
His own unquestionable take and not a single question.

She looks uncertain, glancing at the window
Trying hard to fill the awkward silences
With half formed offers for his own completion.

You appreciate his position?
Unsought encounter with an unsought colleague.
Foreign. Swarthy. Accented.
Quiet, deprived of all his cavernous sonority,
A little deferential to his seniority,
Clearly not as clever and a little dull,
All in the whispered huddle of a busy train.

In his reluctant monotone and magic fidgeting
He has let us know all about it.
If she would just articulate what she must surely know.

Sirrah, you are a cunt.

– o –

Goodbye to summer

Goodbye, the sea.
Goodbye, goodbye the sea.
Goodbye the fleeting pleasures
You have given up to me.

So long now, lonely nights.
So long the lonesome lights.
So long we’ve stared in silence
At each others’ doleful eyes.

Farewell, farewell the chaos,
Farewell your restless players,
You’ll be just fine without us.
Beneath your endless tiers.

Goodnight, the brief enchantment,
Goodnight, the amortised contentment
Of all those city-lit encounters.
Godspeed, the gathering resentment.

And so I’ll end the awkward silence.
I’ll leave so you can stay behind.
Now you can let out all your gathered sighs.

Goodbye, the sea, goodbye.

– o –

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