Poems about our capital
Simon Smith was born 1961 in Redruth, Cornwall and brought up on the borders of Hertfordshire and Essex. Educated at the University of Kent at Canterbury, he lived in Pennsylvania from 1984–1986 where he threw in an academic career for one in librarianship. He has worked at the Poetry Library in London since 1991, and became Librarian in 2003. He edited GRIllE (1991–1993) and was poetry editor of Angel Exhaust (1998–1999). He is one of the judges for the National Poetry Competition 2004 along with Elaine Feinstein, Ciaran Carson and chair Denis MacShane, the Minister for Europe. This poem is taken from his latest collection, London Bridge.
Rather Like Orchestration
A future becomes a present conjured from a diary.
People walking over the silver bridge.
Nobody goes to sleep these days because no one is allowed,
The top light remains on, the one in the hallway
Projects a strange orange shaft that myths are spun from
Maybe God lives there, rubbing shoulders with Venus
And other candidates for the top job.
That’s my view from the stairwell 70 or 80 feet up:
That reading brings no rest, that buttons shine straight,
While easterlies rub windows and trees shiver,
Want to come inside, huddle close by the fire we don’t have?
You make it up as you go along, because you know you can
Provide alternatives, people amongst their own thoughts,
Their own egos and silver rain flutters to a predestined destination.
Well, that is if you believe in God (any god). I do not.
The Americans talk like robots at the corner table
It’s some party.
And that makes communication a problematic unravelling of history,
And as for my invaded personal space—that dark night of the soul—
The treadmill to the stars is where I’m stuck,
Chilly, chilly enough to bang gloved hands together, boom, boom.
These ruminations the thumbnails of self-regard
Block out all the lights.
Yesterday evening was an eclipse,
The moon high in our smoky latitude,
Those almost imperceptible indentations, ghosts
Of a physical presence sweep around to plant the scissor kick.
© Simon Smith from London Bridge (Salt, 2010)