I had long hair back then
enough to cover my face.
The Threadneedle Street grate
puked the smallest amount of warm air.
I curled round it prettily
without smothering—
my throat crack-swollen
slowly, I remembered.
Then the kicks came
hard and regular:
early hours camaraderie now long gone.
They all had a go
without saying a word.
I rocked with each hoof in the back.
And while this went on
Superman didn’t drop
from the sky
didn’t spin and return
to save anyone
from anything.
Faking sleep
playing dead—
it was the best way.


Roughsleeper by Mick Guffan (1953-2006).
Copyright The Estate of Mick Guffan.
This poem is also to be found in The Bastard Brother, a ‘new’ poem collection due out in June from Tangerine Press


Illustration: Claire Palmer

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