15 November 2013

Prague legend


Blind as a bat
Milton smells his way to the
chicken shop, the one with
Fresh Meat
over the door,
to demand his usual
cut-off bits of scrag,
the voice that once
commanded cosmic phalanxes
shrunk to a beggar’s wheeze.
He throws a coin on the bar
and bags the bits
in a flimsy blue-and-white carrier.
Pink blood pools
in the polythene tit.
Then out into the cold whip of the wind
and hurtles headlong
down the broken tracks
of Vršovice
in minus four, an old grey shawl
tucked against his cavity of a chest.


Alighting from the number 22,
she steps ashore in
calf-length boots,
eyes fixed on nothing,
thighs bruised from too much
sex. She shakes
her hair, but no breath
fans it out; no sunlight glosses it.
Oh No Not Now.
And when she trips,
no white-jacketed pursar
steps smartly up - as once in Venice -
to retrieve her broken honour
from the floor.
And as she falls,
and as the dark descends,
above her sixteen rooms’
TVs flick off and on again.


At night they are
dimensionless: these flatfaced streets
where origami murderers
have learnt to fold
their shadows into
the wall’s black geometry.

By day they might
try to conceal themselves
in a door or crevice;
or behind a latticed balcony,
shielded from the light.

But now their faces
have become the dark itself,
their deep-creased features
no more than shadows
laid on shadows.

Nothing moves.
All dulled. No breath
in this damp suburb.

And the classic ricochet
that once might have
caused the heart or eye to give away
the hiding place
slows till it's too deep for human hearing.