So willingly ours

See the dawn’s
early light 
on slate-sky borrowed 
from a fractured night

Broader stripes
brighter stars
this perilous fight
so willingly ours

And the brave
came in throngs
and talked of rockets
and of silent bombs

In the pale
poisoned air
the breeze that concealed
our flag was still there

And the free
starved of breath
struck up the gallows
and clamoured for death   

Here we stand
tribute sworn
hate is a hunger
so furtively torn

such creatures most dangerous

…and paper cups double drumming the soundtrack. Girl turns away before I can; watches the streetcleaner zigzag. Slow for show in a red, hooded coat. £21 ain’t much these days. She says. My grandma she’d gotta work all week for the same. Weird, eh? Weird. Sighs the word with a brand-new skin. Weird how the world turns. She wants redemption but it’s just another tie to the straightjacket. And the streetcleaner goes on turning the liminal. Flushes out leprosy better..

…find somewhere quiet we can talk. I say. Makes no proper sense, but she smiles anyway, more than proper sense would get. Sure. She says. And moon is caught flicking scars and bars between us. What strange teeth you have. She says. Curves up, picks up, gathers up with the red, hooded coat. Dropping crumbs along the silent hedges. Even crumbs are good for something. She says. And I am ripped with a highwayman state of thinking. Stinking…

…she leans too close for my name. Heat on. I make something up, sinister to ease the mood. Blake, that’s nice. She says. Like the 7. She’s all old school sci-fi. I take the poet. Hey, Blake, you know how much I wish I could raise a flamethrower to this place. She says. Flicks tongue on lips and tells me that most the people are mean here. Spit on you soon as look at you. But not you, you have a sweet face, Blake. Uses the name like a doorstop. Won’t stop. Smiles with her mouth closed and I forget that there is anything but poison left in my mind. Take it…

…fake it in bee stings and car crashes. She moans and blood stumbles, heavy as wet sand. It ain’t all about the money, Blake. She says. And she don’t go, won’t go, wasting no more time looking for the right name on the rescue. She moans for it, scaffolded in crisp packets and paper cups. She moans for it. Please. She says. Please. And the red, hooded coat, and the wood and the wolf and the once upon a time. And the axe. And the silence. Answers. What strange teeth you have. All the better for the human traffic…

…lights keep on with the same old, tame old routine. I sit all glass and oak and miss the nicotine days. I’ve stayed too long to remember what it was like before the circus came to town. Before the snake oil gutters and sputters. We all got it tough. They say. Gotta make the best of it. They say. Hey. Ho. What do they know? What the hell do they know? I come here to sit among the humans. It’s not their company I want, it’s the damn familiarity of their existence. Their resistance…

…always leaves some bit of spit or blood under my nails. It’s not just about the hunger, Blake. I say. It’s the. Red for remembrance. Red for old time’s sake. Red for the amber, and the green, and the go. Makes me smile. Burly with it. Five points. I draw a star in pencil so I can rub it out and start again. These are the real stars; the ones in the sky are just balls of exploding gas…