Let me show my appreciation –
Polite applause, perhaps, to the far-flung
Actors playing out their lives in drag on well-worn stages
In other continents, patching weary cynicism into song.
To champagne-sipping businessmen in Armani suits
And their secret lovers, hidden away in this sprawling, living city.
To the angry politicians with their campaigns and their ideas:
Words can make a nation, surely the poets understand that best,
All holed up in little indie cafes in the heart of the city
Trying to resurrect stanzas –
Oh, allow me to show my utmost gratitude for the
Busker in the underground at Elephant and Castle
Seeing through the walls into the grubby alleyways
That wind through London, tangled and knotted like yarn
Pulling, pulling the winter in because it’s always dusk in these alleys
And the light is speckled with grime and desperation –
All you need, really, is a little self-preservation
Because there’s never enough for the caught-in-between hipsters
Who hibernate in dumping grounds, who flash past closed shutters while
Stereo rap blares from BMWs and an Asian tourist’s prized camera goes click.
Taxi drop offs and cobble streets bridging too many gaps to cross.
Allow me to show my thanks
As I stand here and feel this great concrete heart pulse.
We woke up to sparrows, once.
We woke up to grass whistles, dandelion heads.
We woke up to wishing wells, once.
We can feel the ghosts around us
In the way the sun plays shadows across
The flaked bark of a Birch tree that once was.
The old folk songs of crickets,
Their lyrics that preached of freedom.
When did that word slip in, silently, a wallflower?
We would have had wallflowers, too.
Until the rain washed them away.
The rain comes more often now.
We don’t wake up to the sparrows anymore:
They fled North, migrated.
We wake up to warning bells instead
The wail of metal bones
The whispers of what could have been.
Still there. Still there.
Things were simple, then.
It’s colder, now.