See the scars beside the concrete
where houses used to be, people
used to be. A horse in a dried-up
muddy field, graffiti for company:
Where is your god now? a dripping
question that can’t be answered.
Painted the scene purple and gold
but couldn’t hide the damage. Cars
drove faster to get to nowhere quicker
than they ever had. A skatepark
sprang up and splintered, the gypsies
moved on, leaving a scrapyard behind.
The tube offers the best view: squint left
and imagine a neighbourhood divided
by demolition and elevated road. Imagine
a riot on your hands, a fire 24 stories tall
and next door dying or gone missing.
Where is your god now? He is a row
of concrete statues holding up the road,
is a horse remembering grassier days,
is speculation all, no material evidence.
Is working for human rights groups,
is plotting the ley lines that gather here,
is looking for his name in the phonebook,
is probably a prince looking for a princess,
is too old to move away now. Is stuck,
is buried in the cellar, is underneath
the arches, is pouring cold water
on all his own ideas. Is forgotten.
Is Saturday morning in the market,
the discarded is being repurposed,
the freeway connection ignored.
Jazz and reggae lubricate damp clothing
and stale smoke, everything is cheap
or overpriced. There’s nothing I want
but it is somewhere to be, something
to do, is a diversion from the rest
of the week, is a diversion: you must
turn left, follow the yellow signs until
they stop and you is lost. (Rumours
that ghosts are to be seen walking.)
Is years later and nothing has changed
although traffic jam above is longer
and slower. Is a shopping centre nearby
and an encampment of homeless men
living in plastic and cardboard. Is
a desultory space, curving shapes
divide sky and landscape in visually
arresting ways. Is private and is public,
is glimpsed from the train, is whiplash
and shadow, sounds of purpose up above.
Is two chairs and an upturned crate
around a fireplace made of stones.
Is signs of habitation, desolation,
abandonment and discard, is home
to no-one anyone knows. There used
to be a second burial chamber
in a field not far away, used to be
a jumble of boulders, was once
a church on a hill here, houses
where people would eat and sleep.
Now is only grim skyline, cold ash,
the great round eyes of stray dogs,
next day happening much as before.
© Rupert M Loydell
(from Bomb Damage Maps)