SENTINEL POETRY #26 Online Magazine Monthly, January 2005

ALAN HILL

 

Trafalgar Square

 

From Charing Cross prized forward in unwilling tribal clots 

The bunching and the funnelling through

Myopic strings of traffic lights

A weave of human flesh unbalanced on the edge

Of unwanted and unneeded speech

 

Nelson’s column pinched arthritic grip 

Diviner of imperial decline

Sketching ineffectual semaphore on the

Boiled out November sky

Whose empty throated waves of injured cloud

Hold firm among the tints of vapoured red

That lie like slivers of a scalded ham

 

An admiral as a sundial for the

Sleepy headed diplomatic rooming sheds

Canada , South Africa, broken boned

Their noses forced upon the axis

Of a sailor trapped inland

Of a man forever doomed to see no ships     

 

 

The Woolwich Free Ferry

 

Time-warped, shallow-bottomed tugs

Named to crown the memory of the founders of the welfare state

The Bevin, rusting, slower in its circles

Balanced on the tides of the grey and boiled Thames.

 

The traffic queuing

Slowing to a post war country crawl

Backing up – undigested.

An urban constipation

Spilling out in the 1960’s housing blocks

 

Red brick housing trays

Aviaries of the unionised blue collar boys

Of solidarity and unicorns

Museums of the full employment times

The waiting cranes that hung above the bulging docks like hungry crows

 

Backwater now

In sight of corporate counting sheds

Canary smoking shack of gilded tin

That stabs the sun in dull reflecting warp

To charm the hungry eye away 

From that this ferry still exists

 

There is no guarantee or plan

On which to hang

This quaint industrial charm 

So the ferry

Round and round

Connecting where there is no work

To where there are no workers left

  

 

 

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