Thursday, 20 February 2014

Poem: Leaving New York

Leaving New York


Here, on this pavement,
with compromised survivors,
wearing losses like badges,
listing off what they’ve seen,
(what they have seen),
I’m tempted to ask
the simplest of questions:
is it her who’s broken your heart?

Something’s not right.
At the mouth of a cinema,
language and neon
are letting us down:
they’re marking out silences,
as if in some unmapped forest
we’re surrounded by watchtowers
and boundary fences.

Not so much geography as time
intruding – or unseasonal chill
that draws steam from our mouths:
it’s pushing you apart.


Precipitate friend, we’re
already at the station,
safe among strangers
you can choose to register
as little as not.

So how should I care
for your wanting
to make things up?
At the end of the line
she'll not be waiting
in those shoes, that skirt.

You know that, don’t you,
in this cold late spring –
but it won’t stop you
queuing at the window,
buying your ticket,
falling back on hope
and remembered bus routes.

At the barrier, you persist
in giving nothing away –
you’ve decided
you’ve got enough to go on:
magazines, bottles
of branded water …

I’m just here reading titles,
inadvertently wondering
if it is as you say
and you’ve answered
the same questions yourself.

Tom Phillips 2014

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