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{Every year and a while I travel 40 miles up to Woolwich, where I grew up, to check that the journey I make started off in the write direction (HA!); while wandering I write, leaning on peoples’ front walls and making a coffee last in a cafe (and every once in a while I treat myself to an afternoon bench); I haven’t been up there for awhile, certainly since the echoing tragedy of Lee Rigby’s death on 22nd May last year; I wrote snatches of life as usual and came home; I realised that the snatches patch-worked together and worked them into a whole landscape which they had ever were in the first place; I know it’s a long piece but please pursue it for the sake of Woolwich; I realise now that my previous visits’ writings need some rendering due-ly …}



                      Plumstead – Woolwich 121114

                      all fractured now, slightly misshapen, still
                      holding together, the grubby art deco window that
                      coloured the stairwells bracing two rooms
                      maybe three now, don’t know why they used coloured

                      glass, the bay windows still looking up the street looking
                      down, occasional five-finger buddleias like Empire
                      plaques on the wall above top floor windows
                      scud clouds above the coping

                      then flights of step up and up and straddling and down
                      the storeys of irregular variegated plastic cladding
                      upwards upwards for to breathe free and live while people
                      pass on the wet street with small steps and quiet slippers

                      I had a dream once something anxious and dreadful
                      followed me going into and out of Polytechnic Street
                      from Wellington along by the stacked flanks of seventies
                      double-glaze all screened and blinded from the street

                      cannot see in cannot see out, people walk awkward
                      on the tiles flexing metatarsals under the slight over
                      hang of the library from the colding rain while, look,
                      a rainbow arches hidden down the side-street turning

                      the bricks and glazing purple, no one looks up
                      arranging bank loans, arranging brunch, after noon
                      the sun divides streets in half, the buildings too
                      dark to see the shop fronts too dazzled to walk into

                      the sun favours ambitious plants between torn-down
                      building and upright support, plays along the side
                      of preserved plots – flanged shadow from pipework and
                      signage across circular windows – eye to the sky – under

                      hand-brow, too bright even for tinted glasses;
                      so many of my people generations poor in the sun
                      from Empires and Union under the Royal Arsenal
                      Gatehouse; each passing step collapsed and proud knot

                      in kneed of any support, thank you: their shadows reach me
                      down the Square’s access channel long before their pain
                      walks by: I don’t know any of you now with your plastic ID
                      badges with your back-pat handshakes and bent-heads

                      sincere-talk, grouped and scattered by the public toilets
                      your drunk over-emphases your ways like pigeons – where are
                      all the pigeons? – and your beautiful language aged as
                      public benches; dark clothes to wear, light clothes to buy

                      and you don’t know me – lost son haunting the streets – but
                      I love you all constant as the windows proud above roofline
                      between turrets looking onto the Square; I long ago made
                      my vow to you at a time when borders seemed important
                      I know, I know I am slow but I return again and again to see you
                      and you break my heart each time I learn to smile again

                      out towards Plumstead on the lower road (I cannot find
                      the tree I found before through all my travelling) new trees
                      and tapered posts with lights for the road and lights for the
                      pavement and posts just waiting, reaching into the blue blue sky

                      you have been done up many times, Genesta*, so
                      I only notice now what hasn’t changed, for the first time:
                      unassuming tapered pillars between the windows and bays
                      of my youth that reflect the blue sky now (yellow leaves

                      highlight the paving and tarmac wet like petrol) only noticed
                      when a swift skeeks across one pane, not the other;
                      up Dallin Road, she’s got through another day
                      she’s survived the juddering divided walls of ‘have to’

                      the way things are these days, with music in hand
                      she makes rewarded way along the steely street where
                      the sun has slipped below the higher roofline, singing her
                      do-do-do’s to the endless chorus ‘why do we do it;

                      how do we do it?’, and looking for her house keys
                      under metal clouds; the long grass grows rosettes around
                      yellow leaves, brown leaves, by the leaning iron fence the
                      steep tarmac cracks and the shorter grass takes over; past the

                      bronze age tumulus it’s clear, London’s grown up a lot
                      since I watched Francis Chichester sail up the river
                      from the window up on Eglinton Hill – something he did –
                      now there are Shards and Wharfs and stacking planes

                      and significant lights denoting all manner of whey and access but
                      still my nose is running and I need to have a wee; I suppose
                      I need to get home now the light is fading slow and fast
                      at 52 – the ash has only lost its upper leaves by the roof

                      at 48 there is afternoon tv after electric piano practise is done
                      at 44 – the estate agent climbs awkward into her clean soft-top with
                      high clip heels; at 36 – a lantern shines arched in the porch while
                      sirens circle the borough and there’s nothing left here now outside 46





architecture wormhole: Batman#175
bench wormhole: the bench / on the fourth sister from / Birling Gap before the / wind-brushed scrub and gorse / and the grey-blue sky / smoothed through the / fishtank-blue horizon to / grey-green sea
blue & leaves & sun wormhole: Jean Miller kissed Salinger
breathing wormhole: born again
brown wormhole: on sitting / in front of / a hedge
buddleia wormhole: (Little by Little)
buildings & travelling wormhole: I could step / more open
cars & roads wormhole: the long road
change & time wormhole: Dr Strange II – … things are the same again
clouds wormhole: the utter beauty of giving when receiving
communication wormhole: Maidstone
compassion & feet & love & speech & talking wormhole: there are patient listeners
dream wormhole: we’re born // to die
Eglinton Hill & Woolwich & yellow wormhole: letters to Mum V – carrying on in duty and love
eyes & looking & shadow wormhole: a maturity
Genesta Road & rooftops wormhole: corroboration
ghosts wormhole: only the Batman realises that he is dead
glass & light & streetlight wormhole: oh-pen
glasses wormhole: first a mishap then clear vision
house wormhole: day off
identity wormhole: that
living wormhole: scattered
London wormhole: letters to Mum I – a walk / and talk
music wormhole: no exit
passing & sound & walking & windows wormhole: Matildenplatz / & Luisen
people & rain & sky wormhole: Luisenplatz
piano wormhole: … walking down the street
pigeons wormhole: tune up // baton taptaptap
purple wormhole: consturnation …? // consternation
school wormhole: tag cloud poem VI – anyone’s eyes
smile wormhole: irretrievable / breakdown / of marriage
streets & trees wormhole: Dr Strange I – the trashcan tilted the better to see now the street
Thames wormhole: letters to mum II – family // like a grate
tv wormhole: multifarious: the Dark Knight Returns (1986)
walls wormhole: stuck free to move within