Leaves turn sere and there are bings
from networks stretching in through the window:
you could tiptoe now among the stubby thumbs of the city.
You’d like to go but a man –a boy?–
has reached the chimney breast
crawling along the chip pipe, a green can
slung round his neck; with one hand
he reaches for it and sprays ‘VOMIT’,
spelled with an ‘e’, on the Victorian
brickwork. I tip my tip and tilt,
let in late sun, exchange a nod.
Does every man or woman feel like this at 51?
It’s not like Edwin Morgan’s Glasgow but is –
puddles still have hackles, choughs,
working in twos for safety,
have replaced the lamp-lit starlings.
Even the slip roads are extensions.
The strawberry verandah is flash
frozen and exhibited somewhere converted.
The smoke from a cigarette would have sex
if it were presented on a plate but right now
just wants to lie down.
This evening, I’ll play O’Hara, and stroll
into ‘Revolver’, listen to ambient Gaga,
before making for the Red Roof Flats
where my mirror academic – he also likes to slum it –
will feed me paella, regale us with the blood
that dripped through his ceiling
after the upstairs fight. From the balcony
we look down towards the long gone shipyards.
Suddenly we’re distracted: a police
helicopter pinpoints a tiny looter
with a doll making for a playpark.
Loudspeakers reverberate among
the towerblocks; the machine
swoops down from its computer game.
I go home to bed.
There, I dream of Stephen, blond,
6ft 2, 42, 32, who lives on Estragon,
latterly named the second library planet
of his Universe, and vow to buck up:
he has just downloaded my poem
to his data helmet and is comparing
it to Edwin Morgan’s called
‘The Second Life’. He’s slightly
crestfallen and in my dream,
so am I.
Tomorrow there will be asian boys
in souped up Mercedes at the corner
with their attractive bangled wrists.
Ah, there is still so much to see
from my rear window. And the Tesco’s
lad –Lancelot, yes really– will call.
On telly an aftermath is being concerted.
The question is how to stick it
together, so the rush is felt not fake.
The sweep, the push, the pull.
the salute, the mastery, the bowels,
the missing letters…ach….
Here is that snake in the gut,
biting its own tail even as it shauchles
off the trauchle of 51 lives.
We constantly flake
and remain. It is time
not to bury or to praise you;
simply to let your ash float slightly
up and then into the stream with you
and let Mark scratch his graffiti
on the stone dyke wall:
‘EM was here and is’