Monday, 19 January 2009



The Dignity: 11.0, Sunday night,
Rangoon in full tilt, speakers
on high stands. The amp is tube.

They play in front of the pub’s
oil painting, a woman’s face
in red, the height of a man.

A light is trained towards them,
and the drinkers are tuning in:
some begin to dance. There’s

nothing out there, some shops,
a road that needs maintaining,
electric rails the trains follow

out in the open this far North –
only this Rocking rhythm and words
that link us to the rights and wrongs
of men and women, Burmese monks
with cotton sails, riding against tanks.
Another pint: stand further back.

Curved planes continue through the amp and mike
across the road and into space.
Watch them playing: their eyes lock -

the music follows distant streets,
licks into shadows like a liquorice tongue,
goes blind down midnights steps.

The bassist has a 6.0 start;
A leaf curls round; a waist sways.
In the narrow space between the bar

and the stage, couples are making
each moment count. The bar’s
a rose open for last orders. Soon

last tubes will trundle back, and
in silence engulfed by black light
Rangoon’ll dissolve like sherbet dust.


Friday, 9 January 2009

PoetryPivotal 3

Midnight Steps

Something is moving through a tunnel
a tunnel of silence and of brick,
and as it moves further and further away
the sense of the sound does not diminish.

It is born of a mechanism with many parts,
moves on the edge of what can't be heard;
perhaps it's below me or a few streets South
where the railway goes under the road.

The night is not entirely dark or silent:
the sudden creak of a footstep
in an upstairs flat. Three a.m: a cat sits
and looks out, as if seeing the shape

of something that's there, I can't see.
There's a bridge near Jeffreys Street,
where the nuclear waste in steel wagons
rattles on by, at least three a week

and a side alley leading West, down
seventy feet underneath the line. I sleep
with three storeys above me and three beneath;
the walls are thick, and the River, almost black,

flows under us through hidden arches
from Parliament Hill to Anglers Lane,
a sealed light that can't be seen
clusters on the surface, unexplained.