The graffitied grey slug
On ice, humming like a power
Station. Now it rattles like a cough.
The Jubilee line, Marylebone, Euston, King's Cross:
Do the winos dance, or buskers beg?
Is the damp, pocked-marked concrete platform
Warmer, by the friction of countless commuters,
Or smoother with the patent leather slickness?
Barricades that fly open like welcoming hands
Slam in the face of the next
Or those without tickets.
Are the toilets the better for paying?
Nature now costs.
Is Oxford Street, Trafalgar Square,
Piccadilly Circus, Hampstead, Kensington,
Bethnal the be all and end all?
In Houghton-le-Spring is a street
Called Edwin Street. It is stitched into
The busy Cut, a dual carriageway of indifference.
There a seventeen-year-old child
Is trembling over her retarded son
They call a Cabbage.
She is waiting for the next brick,
Or next splash of paint on her door, or burglary.
She speaks the same language with a different tongue.
(Here is a more brutal game.
Here nobody gains.)
Who has heard even of the street
And if they had
There are thousands of people like this
In thousands of streets
In one area
In one town
In one county
In one country.
In Bristol? In Dundee? In Glamorgan?
Who knows where these streets are
But the people are still called by the same name.
A collective phenomenon of Misery
Which Southern literati
Would find a French word for.
Because they don't understand it in English.
Though they understand Shakespeare.
In the Theatre or Kaleidoscopic vision.
Oxford Street? Oh yes -
Just go down Edwin Street and its second on your left.
A few hours by train;
An aeon by brain.