Railside promenade (revisited)

Songs of the Everyday

They painted it in blood rust red.
As if the orphan weed that crawls
out of the cracks of broken brick
beneath the corrugated sky
is not already eloquent?
Step gingerly along the wet insides,
bearded brown stone spilling
its incontinence onto the concrete,
and keep turning to look back.

The handrail is pink and chipped,
like that Demonic Barbie’s nails
or old bald doll’s head on its spider’s legs.
Your soles sipping the slippery stone,
hold tight the reassuring plastic patina
of this, this parody of reassurance,
and as your hand shifts down its length
you give it, for the little that it gives,
a trail of your hard earned skin.

Beyond, the rain is bristling silently
against the disappearing signals,
the bridge spits into silent stillness,
salivating leaves clog the glistening
lines below like listless tongues.
Clack clack clack. Wet black lips
panting from behind the gaps,
watch as you turn and run
into their swallowing embrace.

Don’t touch, walk swiftly through.
We do not want to hurt you.

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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 –

Lines written on the London 7/7 bombings and the 7/7 inquest

Songs of the Everyday

You have nothing to say to the dying
Except: are you ok?

Slumped on the floor spitting blood and crying
You insist: are you ok?

You can see in their eyes that their demons are calling
And all you can offer is: are you ok?

You have nothing better to give to the fallen
So, this is how you pray.

And how can you dig out the blood choked answer
With your tongue of pre-moulded clay?

Fools to those who come to say nothing
And simply walk away.

– 0 –

Dedicated to all those who have died for another’s senseless cause.

I left my baby (in London Town)

Songs of Travel

Something a bit more light-hearted, from my recent lone trip to Cape Verde…

I left my baby
(from “Songs of Cabo Verde”)

I squint at the sun
On the beaches of Sal
I came for the wind
But the wind cried foul
The messenger breeze
Chided to me with a frown:
“Should not have left your baby back in London Town!”

I looked for the waves
But the waves lay low
And the faithless swell
Just rocked me so and so
And the shore-break whispered
As it gently lay me down:
“Why did you leave your baby back in London Town?”

In Santa Maria
I came to make my peace
The air was tense and close
And I couldn’t rest at ease
And the gathering rhythms
They spun me round and round:
“Your baby’s out there crying back in London Town!”

But the sun still smiled
And it looked me up and down
And hugged and carressed me
Until my skin was brown
And I gave it a parting nod:
“Perhaps I’ll see you ’round,
But I will not leave my heart again in London Town!”