Down and Out on Downshire Hill

You take the train
from Hampstead to Chalk Farm
a trip of thirty-six or thirty-seven years
back to the past or into the future
one way or the other
the train is somewhere
on the tracks of the Northern Line.

You drop into the Roundhouse
on Chalk Farm Road
for a cup of coffee
the Roundhouse is crowded
with rock and rollers
and there’s no sign of that dropout
from Wild West Park.
You drag a partly smoked three skinner
out of a bellbottom pocket
think about that young dropout
with the same middle name as George.
You take a sip of coffee
slip out of your shoes
slip back to those days
to those garage band gigs
when you played rhythm and lead
with the Puppets of String Theory
back in those barefoot days
when you discovered Sandie Shaw.

Leaving the Roundhouse
at the end of the song
you walk back to the station
making tracks for Belsize Park.
Down in the underground
you hold a newspaper mask over your face
reading nothing as this tin bullet
rocks from side to side.
All the newspapers have different dates
they blur into one long commute.
Too much time travel
too much H.G. Wells
too much Doctor Who
too much innocence
too much acid
or too much smoke.
It’s all too fucking much.
You decide there and then
this isn’t your planet.

Back home on Downshire Hill
you pay homage
by lighting candles to a ghost
you haven’t got the breath
for blowing out all eighty-four
so, you’ll ask the wind
from West Hampstead
the wind from South End Green
for a little help
you’ll call that young dropout
with the same middle name
as that ukulele player
you’ll read him some Lorca
read him some Rosemary Tonks
maybe venture over to Parliament Hill
take in some crows
flying over that democracy
down by the river
a long way from Paris
a long way from Catalonia
you’ll take his down and out hand.



Kenny Knight






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