AFTER THE EXHIBITION
in powder blue
a moving photograph
pictures of wide rivers
against a wall
the meditative cappuccino.
surely must continue
the faint aroma of fresh laundry
has been lingering
all the afternoon
if as yet
the chin tilts up expectantly
time seems in suspension
a question floats toward the surface -
will there be anybody waiting?
OUTSIDE THE CHURCH
Patrick hails me in the street.
Hurrying by, avoiding any eye-
contact, I hadn't recognised him,
hunched on a bench, cradling
his can. He has aged severely
since the days when he was regularly
at our door, red-faced and whispering
a hoarse request for sandwiches.
'I thank God every day', he tells me,
asking if I can spare a little something.
'I want to get another one of these,'
waving the can. 'They say I've got
cirrhosis now. It can't make any difference.
I don't mind about it. I'm thankful
after all that I've come through. I try
to understand how much He loves me.'
Like others who have been around
the shelters, stood on church doorsteps,
engaging all denominations,
he is well grounded in divinity.
The drink still rules, of course, but
who can say if he is not now in
a better state of grace than many
of us busy people hurrying by?
Gulls on a haze of dirty lilac.
Sun that merely thickens murk,
bringing no clarity.
We talk about pollution when
Canary Wharf cannot be seen
off London Bridge. Here,
he reminds us of whole days
you couldn't see the bridge‚s middle
from the shore. Forests of chimneys
mingle an impasto of dense steam
and soot, coloured by an absent
sun, evoking long-forgotten smells
of coke, gas, grease and artless sweat.
The drop in pressure, sky
leaning on us but withholding rain;
the entropy of early afternoon.
Even the appetite is changed
from sweet to sour, a hungering
unease creeps up the spine.
Soon everybody on the street
looks not quite like themselves,
looks disaffected or half-scared.
....She don't look out
for no one but herself....
Two loud-boys in a car, that once
looked flashy, pulled up at
at corner near the courthouse
for an excited girl who leans
into their window talking about
some charge of 'frettening behaviour'.
You'd like to sit and hug yourself
but nobody is going to feel sorry
as there's nothing really wrong.
The only good news of the day -
all on the back page of the paper -
blows down off the platform
and gets sucked into the tunnel
flailing along the rails, caught in
the wake of a departing train.
© Tony Lucas