Poem #9 of 52

Here is the ninth poem in my 52-poem sequence (one a week) for 2013, followed by some illumination and reflection:


Through all the stillborn winter days
I shiver in the empty spaces
where you used to wait with me

on days that never quite happen
under a sun too sad to rise
I climb through the bones of old buildings
gaunt skeletons of warehouses laid bare
as I explore the wreckage of our laughter

seven storeys up I watch the city panorama:
a demented collage plunged under evening blue
a million lights flickering on
the traffic gearing up: mass anonymity
mechanised loneliness getting underway

peering into domestic tableaux
framed yellow lights in distant windows:
an old woman cuts another woman’s hair
a shirt is pressed or a kettle boiled
lamp shades hover like stolen moons
and mouths wring out pale words
immersed in silence

your life rages on beyond me
as frightening and exciting
as the searing lava-stream of traffic
daisy-chains of lights pouring over black ashes:
as ludicrous as decorations at a funeral

but wait a little longer: and the stars
take up their usual vigil
as beautiful and unattainable as you

I turn up my collar and go now
descending into old dust and darkness
thirsty for the ritual drowning
plunging into bell-jars of cold beer
pickling in the ether of hot air:
my sentiments; dead embryos
clinical, unborn.


Oh dear me, why did I start this and why am I doing this to myself? Yes, this poem is perhaps even sadder than last week’s. Dredging through one’s own distant past can be a sometimes uncomfortable experience. This poem is about the same girl, but also about the same building, as “St Valentine’s Day Demolition” previously featured on this blog. We stripped it down until it was just a concrete skeleton… one of the first of its kind in fact, built on the “Hennebique system”, an early reinforced concrete frame in other words, such as went to enable skyscrapers to be built the world over. But in Glasgow the system went to build a City Bakeries building, which my father remembered visiting in its prime. (It was also used for the now endangered Lion Chambers). By the time I was surveying the old bakery, it was long derelict, the domain of pigeons. Once we stripped it back, the builders demolishing everything extraneous, we then built new insulated brick walls around it and over a year or so later, hey presto, the disused warehouse became numerous new Housing Association flats. My mental disintegration, as detailed in the poem, ran in parallel with the deconstruction of the building, and also fortunately: like the building, I was ultimately rebuilt also.

Those bell-jars of cold beer mentioned in the last verse were pretty important. My friends kept me going.

That’s enough of all this doom and gloom, folks. Next week I’ll be talking about amphetamines.

This entry was posted in 52 Poem Sequence, Archeology, Architecture, Art, History, Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Poem #9 of 52

  1. Pingback: 52 Poems for 2013, 9/52: Archaeology

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