The £1000 Bend

 

The following poem was originally published in September earlier this year in Verge 2017: Chimera and is available at Readings and online.

 

The £1000 Bend

is scraping thin

between two things

that will not ever meet.

it’s holding onto handrails just out of reach;

the brightly painted bars

running overhead but not ahead

to hold you steady

as the faint electric whistle

cultivates a home

against the rhythm of your dreams.

 

Sometimes it lives in scared strewn things

screaming Shakespeare in reverse

too afraid to sit amongst the people

gambling on their £1000 bends.

It breaks the bones

of suburban homes

struggling to find a foothold in a crowd

as the tunnel closes in

at six o’clock

and the rails are beaten to a bend.

 

It’s warping iron tracks

and making glitter from graffiti,

pretending to be Michelangelo

praying in ¾ time

along a soundscape uninvented

and unparalleled.

You break facades

and paint them fresh,

tattoo the underground with compositions

and listen to the echoes

that beat like broken metronomes

skipping inside bars untimed

to the direction leading home.

 

You breathe the £1000 bend

like it’s the thing with feathers

and dare to waltz into skies of grey

as the weather stains in untimed droplets

to cries of engines and of people

who all start to look and feel the same.

 

Route maps and itineraries line your pockets

wearing along well folded lines,

as they leave unappreciated

little scabs of secondhand existence

in a notebook of apologies.

 

But before the steamrolled tracks

grind to a stop

you cannot drop

your fearless gaze.

Having lived, and breathed, and gambled,

and lost

you continue to bend

a thousand pounds to search your soul.

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Hikari

My dearly beloved, bullet train

I was arrested in car number twelve

From Osaka to Tokyo

You had me at train now departing

I’ve committed to memory

Your clean blue and white lines

They remind me of calmness

And I sat transfixed

As Japan rushed me by

As if handmade, hand sculpted, hand nurtured

By an artist with the most loving caresses

Your countryside embellished

With farms of both rice paddies

And the photovoltaic variety

Greenhouses stitching them together

Your cities vibrant and technicolour

Advertisements of character

Tied in ribbons of rivers lined with sakura

And your mountains stood misty

Hooded and strong in a mask of green

Trees to protect what I know must be true

The earth is beloved, and held room in its heart for bullet trains and dreaminess

My own pulsed and resounded

To the rhythm of your topography

Keeping time with your wind speeds

There was no justice in photography

So I drank instead with my eyes

That I used as I wept to the sunset