This is a poem I’ve been working on for around six years. I first started writing it in a hotel room in London after a gig when I couldn’t get to sleep. And I’ve been coming back to it on or off for years since.
It’s an ode to the city where my family comes from, the city I visit more than any other, the city on whose fringes I lived when I was growing up. You could sense it all the time, just out of reach.
Hark, doth London linger.
In lingering humdrum exhaust fume longer
Doth it linger
With that sweat tang white van traffic jam
Lingering in the humdrum London.
River bridges glower tower block
Chock a block gridlock London.
Overcast mellow weather does it settle
Yellow smog hacking hacking Hackney cab London.
London fun with traffic tang
On the tongue
Coming undone I might succumb
Lingering loitering London.
Sunday parks car parks Cutty Sarks
Torn apart grabbed my heart
Seedy humping in London fun parts.
London looming in surly amid the
Hurly burly London fog so swirly
You never get there early
Sweaty set sweat stains
Train seat sweat stains and the
Sweaty armpits tube hanging
Sweat stains hanging from that
Tube strap sweat stains
Tube strap pulsing veins
Very much like the tube map.
Mind the gap.
Sweat stains armpit blotch like
Map of Greater London.
Drunken wine bum
Drunk on London
London low life lowdown lurking.
London terminus ominous terminus
Not cleaned since Copernicus.
Charge by the hour
Ever so sour looming tower
And I hover likewise
I have the power
Eardrum thrum in London.
City city pretty scape
Mass escape city pretty
Sitting pretty cityscape.
London undone fun run
London squares and bars and fairs and cars.
Kick that burn that kicking in
Floating high on fog bank London.
I hover tentative grey sky
Square mile London longer
Doth it linger deep within
My city my thing my
History my place my dream