Andrew Hirst

Three Night Walks: I

They say I’m a poet of the city
– the simplest of things, a night fish flung out
from the drought, acute angled orange.
I’m on my way back from somewhere to somewhere else
back past the floodlit stadium, unsettled, absent, scouring
quickened gestures, harnessed songs.
They say I’ve forgotten who I am, who any of us are
– that horrible little woman from Gwent News
the gossip settling against a methadone coloured sky,
down a rough hillside among the shell cases and thorns
of gorse, that at night we dream of meadows.

One version of it, set sharp after twenty years
– it happens to be raining on Alferston St.
on Monaghan Rd. and Mayes Rd., the cars stand still.
Two boys, just kids, want my money. But I want my money
more and for the first time I’m not easily letting go.
So I stare them out, close in on one of the faces like a camera.
It’s enough to scare them off. I’m lucky.
Lucky I don’t see the two kids again in every unsettled face
nor look for semaphore to change the young
– stuff to force blame into – mosque, backstreet or purse string.

I’m lowly, coarse, my dark brow sweats.
Yes, I’m a city poet, I adore rain on asphalt, the abandoned Moses
basket in the bushes, music and light bristle from every pore.
But it’s night times mostly now, scuttling along the curb’s ledge
alone, unsettled, residual, the lights from a passing car
news of a niece’s love slowed down, twenty years set sharp
– blood caked feet, dim lit wall, forecourt
– as when you first awoke, two drops of water on a bow
pearline glass, opalescence, coal.

*

From Andrew Hirst’s sequence Three Night Walks in the Longbarrow Press anthology The Footing. Listen to Andrew Hirst introduce and read this poem:

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