CITY

by Luke Otley

The streets are rivers
which we navigate like short-sighted salmon,
picking an uneasy path, making slow progress-
faces rushing upwards like images in a dream;
Arabic noses, coarse beard hair,
black lipstick, a pulsing bosom
beneath a black top pulled taut,
knee length leather boots, hot salted beef
slurping on brown lips, a catch of hot grease
heavy air, fried meat, potatoes, garlic, caraway,
cardamom, sweet, sickness.
A level cut fringe dark above oriental eyes
so sincere, and prim school kids, flushes of racing green,
navy blues, schools of scuffed shoes, laces, velcro,
dainty fingers fashioning drag-like make-up,
a little arrogance in their numbers,
a little bravado in the boys, eager to prove,
nothing to lose,
an open palm, caramel, approaches,
spare change, spare change, he says
a man sitting on a flattened box in rags,
a simple sign at his feet,
a pathetic collection of coins,
one milky marble in a dark socket,
the other eye downcast, reverent,
as if in prayer.