L I t T e R

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Back to Litter home

Alistair Noon


Across the water


1
Why I disagree

Who says the sun’s
a single thing?

That welder saw
two of them rise
this morning:

one from the trees,
one from his torch.

2

Parade day, sunny and warm –
best get the flags out to dry.

3

Crossing the bridge:
a colosseum of skyscrapers,
tier upon tier.

The passengers have the look of Romans:
distant – for so long
they have been so near.

4

Locals, unfriendly,
like a contourless map

– that boatman,
pole in both hands,
who wouldn’t wave back.

5

The faithful come to confess their failings:

bells echo across the water:
wrenches striking a freighter.

6

The guy with the yellow armband
(‘Serve The People’)
– job’s to stop cyclists

jumping the red lights –

is having a fag break –

you can’t serve
all the people
all the time.

7

Among the crowd admiring the moody young men
pirouetting the 3rd floor’s jumper collection

an assembly of grim policemen
don’t look like they’ll be making a selection.

8

Who will he afternoon with?
Guiltily, he puts
the packet in the bin
and the condoms in his pocket.

9 What the beggar got


The tourist’s charity,
cheaply made:

a box of hotel matches
and a portion of marmalade.

10

They’ve built up the park with saplings, and behind them
dug in new tower blocks.

By day an old woman upends the bins,
by night the fox.

11

A bubble blows across People’s Square,
disappears in the central fountain.
Those films of the mass demonstrations –
the people waving, shouting, fainting.

12

We went to the philosopher’s lecture on globalisation –
the question: whether to crowd into the hall

or listen from outside.

13

May Day, and the workers are out on the streets,
sweeping the rubbish into small heaps.

14

Under the black, sagging skies,
the spirit of enquiry:

a young man tries
the doors of a 4-wheel drive.

15

A half-built
tower,

windowless
in the rain, as if

towelless
in the bathroom,

I walk in on it.

16

The short dark blueness of light around seven;
the workers in the train in their shirts and blouses;
the long lights that dot down the towers where they come from:
the dark distant kitchens of their houses.

17

And so it
becomes normal,

anything
becomes normal,

the stiff and
polished

turn dull and
informal,

and the houses
that were there

have been demolished.

18

You asked me if the evening was a success:
well you couldn’t see the sponsors’ logos;
this guy said I was handsome and asked for my address;
and photographers were taking photos of the photos.

19 Radiowaves


He worked in radio
and had a radio voice:
expansive, blue-green,
the listeners’ choice.

Warm winds picked up his words,
took them to curious ports;
below, the light dimmed
and decoloured to the floor.

20

From along the overhead highway, lit up on a rainy night:
little niagaras,
outroared.






copyright © Alistair Noon, 2005