Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Scales, weights, weighing machines

Gray's Inn Road is a burst of sound:
drills, sirens, thudding bass from cars that
the bones of you.
McDonald's is a magnet, drawing people in
and stuffing them with
plastic burger buns, synthetic enough to survive an apocalypse and
outlive us all.
Taxis crowbar themselves into spaces you'd never think a car could fit 
like magic,
like swerving pros,
the swell of traffic crushes through;
shops come and go:
a launderette one day, empty the next, ready to be fitted as a cupcake store.
Above the massage shop that
hasn't made enough to justify a permanent sign
is a secret message from the past,
"Scales, weights, weighing machines"
Daubed as though graffiti from the distant dead,
a ghost of commerce long-gone,
where things were clunky, functional, required.
Not touchscreen, like now,
not weightless, backlit, to amuse each spare second.
I like to think of men behind the counter,
clasped hands and
long aprons barely touching a dusted floor, where
people came to buy their scales
a pilgrimage to a specialist
on the Gray's Inn Road.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Home bird

The flight of a bird can
catch your eye, a
drag of fountain pen across the sky.
You can start to forgive yourself
for that feeling in your chest,
like the end of a movie
or the last day of school.
The bird is a hawk, unfurling its wingspan
inside your heart,
where feathers and love stick like tar.
Your longing is
an express train of wanting to feel home.
So you wait with coins ready in your hand
to buy a one-way ticket.
But they are not your hands at all;
wings - brown and glossed, as if
A feeling that you've been pretending all this time
is overwhelming and you
take off, instinct telling you the way.

Friday, May 8, 2015


A globe of churning supper
beneath the TM Lewin shirt stretched thin.
Crisply ironed this morning, now housing
blooming stains of sauce, wine, and some undetermined other.
A quick meeting and a bit of nosh they'd said,
over a quick guzzle at The Tipperary. What started with
half a Guinness swiftly descended,
where the tiny glass looked Liliputian in his fat and sausaged fingers.
The Guinness swilled in pints this time and then came chips: big ones,
cooked twice in goosefat, stacked
in bales on a breadboard:
I miss plates, one of them says.
A roll-call of City bankers and brokers through the door,
booming men with dusty jewels for eyes,
eyes dry with the hangover of last night's deal.
Glinting are their cufflinks, wet with
London Pride and a whisky chaser.
Another swarm of suits enters the room, a sweep of the bar:
another round before the eating proper.
Next door to steaks, a hot breath of charred meat
drums upon their faces.
One of them wears spectacles, that steam up with the swell.
They squeeze into a booth with busting buttonholes and zips,
with eyes like currants they clutch at wine,
upwards claret fangs on mouths with a
blackening of teeth.
Fried brie, to start; they don't want to wait,
never a minute without something greasy in their grasp.
Steaks arrive with chips again and also their own weather-system,
upwards steam of
meat-facials to smooth their glossy cheeks.
Another Chateauneuf du Pap, he shouts,
stemmed glasses smudged with cheesy thumbprints,
soon cleaned on napkins so they can text their wives
to say they'll be late home.
The peals of laughter roaring out make light of
the economy;
they'll flap their FTs out on the train from Cannon Street,
gurgling with full.
And outside the Tube station sits a woman begging scraps to eat:
funny how finding half a Pret A Manger sandwich
can make her day.