Eight o' clock, relentless steeping rain -
the wheezing bus pulls in a drab grey bay
where water stains the pitted concrete wall
and people shuffle to the parted door.
They're off, we're on, we skitter down the aisle,
swiping hats and hanging off the rails,
hudging up and squealing in the steam
from fug of duffle, soaking gabardine,
we run our fingers round the furry seats,
tease out tickets shoved inside the cracks,
inspect the purple numbers for the magic
sum of twenty one, and smooth them quick,
then into bags and later, out of sight of Miss,
exchange them in dank cloakrooms for a kiss.
Rain smacks the windows so hard it ought to leave scars,
like welts on the underside of the sky
but inside's a cheery glow, we're snuggled into coats;
with the Hillsborough lads who know they'll be
Wednesday 'til they die whatever the score. My kids smile,
bug-eyed, clutching tickets the conductor gave with a wink.
Spare hands grasp mine; tacit reminders I'm not alone.
"love you too" the man snaps off his phone, rolls his eyes
"soft as a sofa that one" he sighs. We have pulled away
from Perseverance Terrace towards home,
while the girl I was one wasted night, mascara smudged,
wearing pain like a neon dress, is long gone.
And the stranger who'd insisted I'd kept
a crisp white square with her initial embroidered in blue,
who held my hand through all London's bleak stops
is more memorable now than the man
whose name might as well have been Judas.
There's always a time to choose, to disembark;
like I left Battersea and inconstancy behind, moved north.
Now the rain quietens as the sky clears, closer here to Sunnyside,
the distance travelled, eighteen years.
What makes a city is what you make of it.
Its heartbeat's like a bassline, true and quick.
Watch how it pulses with the lives we live -
living side-by-side, each of us different.
Now for each odd fight or clash or cruel word
that spills onto streets, there's someone helping
another, just trying to make ends meet.
Sneer, if doubt says you won't buy into this,
but know these words aren't selling anything.
Find a window seat on the tram or bus.
See the sun splinter through the clouds above.
See the bustle, the people, the endless roads,
the details. Step off at a different stop.
See the city again from that distant hilltop.
...you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
The way a hawk
is most a hawk
your black Toyota
most a car
at 50 mph
so people are
most human when
that woman is the sum
of every flight of stairs
she's tiptoed up.
Her son's a Sunday
penalty that curves
That crowd holds
a thousand ways of
crossing a room.
And since you ask, you
could have been
a Saturday spent
on the resurrected tyre swing,
the drunk dance
of the sycamore,
but you're a movement
the cup paused just below
the lip, the roll-up
not yet lit
and I'm the hand
One Long Stare
There is poem between us,
in one long stare
we are always becoming.
Poem will not ask you to tick
the box 'I agree.'
Poem will not list your to-do's.
Poem will only move you,
if you let it.
Poem does not resent.
Poem does not ask you to look
deep inside yourself -
this poem already knows
you are there.
Poem has better signal than a
and will leave no voicemail.
Poem will sit across
from youon the tram
reading itself in your silence,
reading itself in your stare
like humans do when we share
the lights in our eyes
and become poems.