cities

In search of lost time

I’m sitting on Bute street
In my head the French bookshop
And French bakery Bonne Bouche
Are still here, smelling of books and
Bread, livres et pain

I’m still sitting on Bute street
I open my eyes, I can smell Mama
Pho and it doesn’t go with my
£pp3.50 flat white

I’m looking at a shop called Blanc
With towels and a sign ‘Fashion doesnt
Have to Cost the Earth’ instead of
Books in French

Now I know how old women feel
The ones who talked about the
Old days as if they were better
Now they’re gone

I will not come here again to
Look for the past, I will not
Find it, I will go somewhere
Else to remember.

Postcard from Hoxton

These money people float
Their money makes them
So light

Their soles are not touching
Anything, they live like
Angels

No memories staring back
From the streets they pass,
The ex-

Council blocks they buy
When they come down from
Heaven.

But they never land, they
Glide an inch above real
Living

You can still hear the mortals
From time to time, they
Break out

With feet that know the old
Streets, feet that can’t float like
Angels.

(Written somewhere between Shoreditch and Hoxton)

Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat

These feel like the end days

Of life. The sun, the moon,

The clouds that move, the

Train that stops at every stop

And then goes back again.

The cyclists in the queue

At the traffic lights, leading

South. How long it feels, this

March to death, this mess of

Locks and wheels and limbs

That we call civilisation. How

Vile the stench of sweating

Plastic and half-eaten sandwiches

Discarded in the wrong section

Of the bin, into general rubbish

Down and out

​I was eating pizza on the steps when

A beggar asked me for money, I had
None but offered him the other half
With artichokes still hot, but he said
No it wouldn’t feel right, and walked on.

And the next bites were sweeter and
Clearer in the context of his pain, the
Mozzarella soothed my heart as a velvet
Curtain richly slices off the ache of frost.
Lucky me to eat and eat outside out of

Choice, not at home, a home to choose to not be in, not to have to find a nook every night to hook my sleeping soul on, not to
Have to sleep on stone a sleep closer to the night than is comfortable, a public

Closure of my body, a performance to the
City of my freezing lung, not enough heat to snore, just enough to breathe in before the next dreaded dram of coffin-cold air.

Birthday Past

image

Dark cake and a pair of shoes
On the grave outskirts of Saint James’s Park, just outside the gates, in fact,

On a grey paving slab, quiet clean, but
For the crumbs and smear, like dog shit,
In its roadside homelessness, nowhere

The sweet kitchen that supported it, we presume, before it got led astray, wandered from the safety of the

Picnic blanket, perhaps taken by these shoes..
But they lost their way, neither shoe can tell tales to passing

Strangers now, both are mute.
Was she Happy when she left?
We can only guess and hope she got some new shoes

Midnight chorus

Awake on the city’s lines
Birds sing karaoke, out of time

To Night’s electric dirty
Diesel dittied backing beats,

Dawn turns up unannounced,
And turns up the original track,

Instantly everything syncs back
Into perfect harmony, as usual.

Dutch red light dolls

The one in the first box is
Perched on the wipeable faux
Leather stool, tweeting boredom.

In the next box the stool’s empty.
At the back we can all see his tartan scarf and thick grey coat against her thin
Radiator.  

He looks up, relieved
That she’s drawing
The curtain.

image

Wake up from the daily grind

Wheels on the bus
Go round and round, round and round.
Carry us.

Cleaners, brokers,
One ear off or, surround sound,
All yous, hark

The timetable
Perpetual, it turns found
Into lost.

The world is so loud at night

I hear Morocco pulsing

In my feet and Hong Kong

Twinkling in my throat

 

Montserratian and Barbadian lapping

Ears over to New Orleans,

Rolling down to Acapulco

 

Further down Columbian greens

That heard my father’s

First word to the world

 

Now I’m flying high above

The deep giant squids and

Corals, fighting and fading into blue

 

Back to Europe, Corfu

Familiar pieces of the jig saw puzzle

Curling at the edges, many missing

 

Do of it what can be done

With what is left, before

Some breeze, dog or toddler gusts it apart, unthinking.

Looters and Lambs, Mixed Up.

Smart street lock

Stopped out from

Passers by who may

Or may not pace off

With an arm full

Of pulsing lung

Chasing every beat

Round the ribs

To neat blood

Sweat through

Polyester mix.

 

 

Park trees trim

With silk flame,

Waving to

Black eyed shops

While skipping,

Nomads bleat

For snacks and

Chew through wire,

Shit and eat

The last soft

Blades of grass.