Underbelly Nightwalkin’ Blues

Clerk in his Daylife, office wretch, money-talker
Now he’s fighting the City, aimless steps
………………….A Nightwalker.
………………….Nowhere going.
Walks in the gutters, on the ‘keep-off-the-grass’-e
Watches the youngsters who kiss in
………………….Underpasses.
………………….Just passing.
No Westminster wastrel, briefcase full of sardines,
shoes drowned, canal water, bulging
………………….Suit seams scream.
………………….Went a’swimming.
In his Youth, trapped hankering in dusty white bed
for true bawd, buggered off to the red lights,
………………….red legs instead.
………………….Unsteady stepping.
Now back there, now back, to pools of lemon piss light,
Cheddar Road, whisky, alleys where the violence is
…………………..Bright,
…………………..Bleached, bloodless, his skin,
…………………..Neon dripping off his tongue,
…………………..Cocktails in his cranium,
…………………..Seesfaces in the puddled stink
…………………..of oily rainbows underfoot,
…………………..in plastic, aluminium,
…………………..street corners pocked with chewing gum,
…………………..battling though a heaving glow
…………………..of hazy-woozy caramel,
…………………..coating, coating everything,
…………………..as taxi hum grows louder
…………………..and scarlet eyes wink back at him.

…………………..Night-dweller, he throws away his tie with pride,
…………………..Amid the buzz of cars and bars, amid, amid
………………………………………..the pristine grime.
………………………………………..He’s a’grinning.
………………………………………..Jaw slack, drunk, falling. Is that Digbeth Calling?
………………………………………..Yes, he’s conquered the City, down the high-street
…………………………………………………………………….he’s crawling.
…………………………………………………………………….Only-

Shop-window mannequins look far too real at 4am.

By Jessica Syposz


Urban Romance

We flirt in the evening,
cool bright lights winking at me,
there is no distance between us.
Smoke from your tiled lips brushes
dawn’s blushes; a trail for me
to follow, its immensity
leaves me sleepless. Few stars brave
your desolate skies, but you
moulded me, and eight million
other lovers. In the evening, I
turn my bedroom light on, and blow a kiss.

By Nora Selmani


Pandemonium

“What’s your poison?”
“Cyanide. Double. If you’d be so kind.”
The barman doesn’t laugh. He likes my dead-pan jokes.
He pours a glass of house red and, as always, I’m a little disappointed.

The wallpaper lolls from the corners like the damp tongues of dead men.
The dull lights stutter like lazy stars.
The wheezy juke-box sounds like it really can’t be fucked anymore
and, to be honest, neither can I.

A little life splattered with mistakes with blurted confessions.
Back to the bar back to the barman awaiting a shipment of deadly chemicals.
The content of my pocket tumbles to the bar top with a clatter.
The music is rewarded by the single clap of a glass dropped before me.

The blood slides down my throat until the world becomes a child’s wet painting,
until my eyeballs hop on a merry-go-round onto which the rest of me is not invited.
Night after night for years—six, if you actually want to know— I find myself here.
The last of the money I borrowed is slowly fed into my blood stream.
The last train home leaves the station
and in the darkened windows I can almost see the mess I’ve made of myself.
QUICK another pint.
Shrieking with laughter with a paperweight heart, The Dawn is a terrible joke.
I stumble about these rain raked roads
as if every tear I’ve ever shed has travelled through time to fall on me now.
The skyscrapers glare down on me through a thick grey haze.
Head flung back till my jaw has no choice but to gape,
I beg the sun to forget to rise on this dreary city of washed up dreams.
“Are all the bars already closed?”
On the ground I drag my fingertips across the gravel.
High up there, the skyline disgusts me.
Tiny stones find refuge under a thin layer of paper thin skin.
Waiting for that ugly blot that black full stop,
my roaming eyes find a red sign in the window of a little bar locked between concrete.

IDLE HANDS ARE ALWAYS WANTED

By Beth Woolman

 

Five City Pansies

After Reading Reading

The Southbank thirty years on;
…………..Little different from Pete Reading’s
…………..eighties dipsos, losers, bums
…………..under Festival Hall
(fo jentriffeyed wiv fugging captlist eggspanshun)
……………dossing in advertising ironies for
……………flats behind the Tate
……………going for five million a pop.

NT and Tate

Lear losing his shit in the Olivier.
Matisse’s malady made manifest:
multi-coloured madness.
Lear losing his shit in gouache and pins.

Thames Beach

…………The tide is out.
Weed and water separate through lunacy.
Under the legs of green-hung
monsters play the spawn
of new generations,
amazed by this creating sand sprouting
from the river.

Blackfriar’s Shame

The naked strand sprawls,
its dressing sweft aside from lumpy underbits.
Here and there rusty cables, fastenings and chains jut
like bondage-gear in some Herculean
Fifty Shades brutality of giants
discarded under Old Blackfriar’s Bridge.

Reading Reading again.

Gotnychange?
Ohshitlatenight darkling streets
demanding cash-filled succour.
He snatches coins for meths and god-knows-what.
Shambles stinking past and down and out.

By William Taylor

 

The Hack Writer

In a high rise palace which scratches the rough edges from the clouds
I imagine you by the window, dropping gin onto the glittering tarmac.

You draw in the intoxicating night until it fills your lungs with cold air.
I remember how proud you are that you’ve never touched a cigarette.

You watch a fox on the street below as it climbs into the metal waste bin.
The street lamps glow neon onto its pelt: the aesthetics are just perfect.

Suddenly you lean out of the window too far and you become the fox.
I watch as you shake off your human skin and leave your crumpled pages.

As the beacon of your laptop sits glowing yellow out into the darkness
You stalk the streets in peace, a silver trail of gin still stuck to your paws.

By Georgie Tindale