Tag Archives: city

on the Osaka loop line

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cities were never really my thing
but there is something here that
calls – maybe not to me but
maybe not to all of me maybe not
as loudly as it thinks but I
do hear my name ringing
in the jingle of traffic lights
in the chirping of train platforms
and it draws me closer, line after
line to a feeling no longer
just a sketch not just a draft
and no matter how much I laugh it away
it’s there it calls it carries me
for a while – just a little longer as
the light dims it carries more
than just my name, and eyelids
and limbs feel heavier and slower
than they have in a long time and
I let the city carry
the soft ringing of my name
slowly fading into town
fading from shi to cho
from here to home and I’m
back I’m back I’m back

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London, July 2016

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Frame me here
pin me to this evening
of summer dresses and topless
joggers running from business
into a bustling busy city
that wakes at the close
that gathers its strength
that swipes the day clean again
loses its filters and sheens
that walks close to its lovers
its friends its followers
make this night a hashtag
make it viral in its living beating buzz
make it sing make it dance in the street
make it jump to reach its signs:

the world is not ending
any time soon
we have more nights to write
more walks to write
more books to write
more smiles to write
more plans to write
more to write
than we possibly can
in just this one worldful

Night shuffle

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Play.

I did not mean to walk your streets tonight, but I did. I walked past your defences, your missing kind, your barely hidden happiness, as someone held me and helped me up.

Skip.

Walls of colour, from A to H, spread themselves before me, leading to hues of pink, gold, oxidized bronze. Your trees hold twinkling fruits, and I still don’t know how to be alone.

Skip.

No silver, no wick, no weaving. The flint is still there, stubborn and content. Glint of glass walls further to one side, no one reading, seasons change, people fall, hearts beat.

Skip.

Is there something I should know? Hall after hall you still keep secrets, even in the open, hardly hidden, standing tall in stone and tar. Bridges need crossing.

Skip.

Before the other side, some of your plainness shows, and still manages to pluck, softly, strings that had settled, gently. You’re the lucky one, you caused it.

Skip.

Orion, inevitably on your sky. Fairy lights, also inevitably, on your skyline. Friends intermittently on your roads, this road. Some have come home, some on your back.

Skip.

It’s getting cold. I’m getting cold. Walk with me some more, first. A ghost above me, pasts beside me, a door just ahead. Am I ever coming back for you..?

…skip.

(Bonus track: No words left after all that. Just step forward, right or wrong foot, doesn’t matter. Time to walk again. Time to set out and find the next one. I might be back.)

NaPoWriMo 2015 Day 16 – April suburb

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Flowerbeds around
where you chased footballs:
and now in the rubble
soiled flowers bloom to the dry breath
of springtime walls.
But in your eyes and in your voice
there is water,
coolness in your depths, rooted
beyond clods and seasons, in what
remains on the tops
damp snow:
and so you rush through every vein
and tell
that remote road still
and the wind
light over gigantic
blue chasms.

[Original Italian by Antonia Pozzi (1912-1938), ‘Periferia in aprile’.]

NaPoWriMo Day 24 – Paris Sleeps

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Paris sleeps. A giant silence
climbs down to occupy every crack
between tile and brick. Cats and birds
are quiet. I keep watch.

August without claxon. I survive
alone, maybe. I hold in my arms
like Sainte Geneviève my city
peeking out of the cape, in a corner of the painting.

[Original Italian by Maria Luisa Spaziani, ‘Parigi dorme’.]

Sides

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There is a square in the town
in the city where she lives
which isn’t.
It has three sides
of flagstone and brick
and then two more: an inside
and outside.
The inside feels, for all intents and purposes,
like flagstone and brick,
like sandstone and rock,
like concrete and mud.
The outside feels different.

There is a man on a bridge
in the city where she lives
who draws his life day after night
fighting the creatures on one side
and the other.
He knows the flagstone and brick
of the outside and inside
he knows the stars and sky.

There is a woman in a room
in a house in the city where she lives
who looks like a page from a book
but only for one day, one day in the year.
She knows the concrete and sweat
of the inside and outside
she knows the leather and print.

There is a book, there is a room
there is a bridge, there is a sky
They are the outside of the square
which is not a square in one
but multiple cities
of France of England of Morocco
and yet of brick and stone
and of stars and sky
of outside and of inside.

NaPoWriMo Day 28 – The Son I (Benni)

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I saw you through the door
to the kitchen
an old man’s white head.
The coat in the hallway
shaped by your absence
photos and calendars from years
that no longer exist.
So, sometimes, we have to
live years gone by.
Bent on the table, clutching your arms
as if the world
could escape them. Counting
rips on the tablecloth.
Stubborn.
Father.

I want to not count the floors
in the slowly hissing lift
inside this ugly building
I want to not sigh with relief
when I get out
of these tired walls
I want to be close to you
but I can’t.
The waves take me
to an ocean of light outside
where thundering water falls
into videogame arcades, beating engines
faraway sounds Japan Redondo Seattle
flashes, stars, bonus, new weapons
Mortal Kombat levels like never
in your dreams.
And her eyes, picking me through
perfumes and lying adverts.
Her reflection in the shop window.
Her movements as she wraps
hairspray for happy fascists
hairgel for trolls, spray-on for pixies
smells of the Party
stuffed marines Barbie corpses
tenors fake do-gooders, artists fake evil-doers
been dead for years on a chair
of the Bates Motel top floor.

But me and her together in traffic
ineffable twin clouds.
Before the night’s yellow sun
of a young jaguars’ fast-food
heavy-breathing, on streets
where dealers are brothers
pills, amphetamines, prozac, swords
here I fight and sing
can you hear me father?

You who defended me roaring
you who guarded my fever
and my first idea of death
you who hesitated outside school
unsure, enter or not, and watched me
play through the fence, in the nettles
on the short grass of a modest battle.
You who still seek more bread, more milk
old without a job
wounded, dark, Aztec with no land
how can I tell you that I get high
on what might kill you
on the city and its snakes
on the moon-giant burning
these roofs tonight
and says, you’ll see her, tomorrow
the most beautiful, the only one, the one
who carries her beauty around
like thirst, like a name
like something you don’t need.

NaPoWriMo Day 26 – The Father I (Benni)

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From Sixteen Bar Blues, First Movement.

So I stay, crucified to an average afternoon
on the abyss of a kitchen table
between dirty dishes, this is also dew
thinking that it can’t go on like this
in the painful wind, standing still.

Sing to me the warm stream of acid
and the lead in my lungs
the grease of colloids
seeping through the roof
the thunder of presses, and the heat
sing to me the Red and Green of the Impartial
the pickets in the snow, crippled comrades
hits taken and given
sing to me an envelope that says
you are free from this
you are old for this.

Sing to me the days without beginning or goal
tell me what name I should pray.

Did God ever have to walk into a shop
with two-pounds-fifty, eyes to the ground
choosing the cheapest milk
for the Son, the only hungry son?
Does God know the price of a tin of beans?
Was he ever unemployed for years
does God know what it means to count
the change in your pockets, like kids?
God does not allow this, he wills it
in his Infinite tiredness. So we meet him
finally at arm’s reach, in the fading smile
of the cashier, after a ten-hour shift.
In the funeral light of the neon lamps, queuing
choosing soaps to eternally wash
the clothes we’ll soil and wear again
wedding dresses and killing uniforms
old shirts and glorious cufflinks
a football shirt, faded blue-green.
My son watched me in silence
on the short grass of a modest battle
that day long gone, proud of his dad.
The same dad today queuing for God’s will
with old men holding toilet rolls
and the hobbling old lady, worried
for the whimpering dog, tied up outside
loyal and silent son, never growing.
Between teenagers kissing, arms full of beer
and an undecided homemaker, carting too much meat
poisonous cows/arctic chickens/dinosaur bones.

And me, I who know the final chime
of the till, when it swallows fates at night.
I bought you milk, I know you like it
and a bar of chocolate, with the free toy
made in Taipei and I have no change
left to smoke, but it doesn’t matter.
While God sleeps on soiled clouds
and in the deserted field a football bounces
alone and loudly, a cloth-moon.

Within the shop walls a bull runs
in a nightmare, it dreams of its slaughter
and its fear wakes me up.

NaPoWriMo Day 8 – Falling

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September,
and the clocks strike autumn.

She stands, alone
as the evening lingers
for a little while longer
before submitting, fully, to dark.
The snailing pavements
of streets around her
remain quiet
in the dimming light.

She walks, alone.
Whenever she would visit
time simply stopped.
And yet, this once,
she watches the walls peel
in dregs and flakes of
leftover summer days.
The majesty of stone
of a faith now crumbling.

She stops, alone,
to look at the creatures,
still on their towers,
watching upon the city
below them, a rhapsody
sounding through their wings
as the wind blows through.

She smiles, alone,
at the memories of past
seasons, lost and regained
with another closed circle.
Different feelings,
tastes and smells,
from different places.

And this is where she stays.
As the ageless faces
of clocks remain silent,
as the austere backs
of walls light up,
as the grave wings
of stone rest,
we leave her here
alone.