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Woman on the Museum steps
I saw her at the top of the steps,
pencil thin, cropped white hair,
luminous yellow coat, black trousers,
watched her as she came down
slowly, one by one, phone at her ear
her bight vertical cutting through
the grey stone horizontals
until she reached the bottom
and, still deep in conversation,
passed me and was gone.
Later I realised the woman
and the steps were incidental,
understood what was important
was the process; the way we move
through time and space
in small increments; the way
each shift opens a new perspective.
The way the fragments accumulate,
how they pile up one by one
to make the whole
It’s three a.m. My footsteps echo
off blank brick walls.
I am not entirely sober.
I take a drag on my roll up
and settle into the journey.
There’s something splendid about
walking the city at night
when the cloak of busyness is thrown off
and the streets stretch out naked,
From Stratford to Maryland and on
past the real Albert Square,
tatty and nondescript and slumbering.
Forest Lane unrolls under my feet
straight as the proverbial arrow
towards Forest Gate. No forest; no gate;
just a grid of solid, Edwardian terraces
split in half by the Woodgrange Road
No traffic. Nothing except the on
off pulse of the crossing light.
Now I am almost there, counting off turnings,
Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer. Do people
know they live in dead archbishops?
Last few paces. I turn the key in the lock
enter my own illusion of security.
Published in Poetry Kit magazine
Summer has turned to autumn on the flick
of a swallow’s wing. The season darkens
and draws in. Fiery eyed jack o’ lanterns
dance a foolish future, no treat; just trick.
We rake up the fallen truths of summer
pile them into heaps; make bonfires of them.
Then stand silent and watch as flames consume
things once loved. Winter brings cold, dark slumber.
But while we sleep the ashes swirl and rise
recollect their purpose; wind blown, take wing
and like flocks of storm tossed birds ride the skies
above the hard and frozen ground. Searching
until they find the cracks between the lies
settle, nourish thought seeds, and wait for spring.
(First published in the Yaffle press anthology: Whirlagust II 2020)
Mornings East London
We slipped over an invisible line
some where, some time;
skin to skin, electron trading
is that how it is done?
Intended or not;
we are held in this covalent
Early morning walking across Wanstead Flats
to the French Café for croissants and coffee
that’s what stops you in your tracks
the sheer ordinary, bloody, beauty of it all
no words for it – just
a handclasp and a quickening step
(First published in RoundyHouse 2010)