The streets are rivers
which we navigate like poor short-sighted salmon,
picking an uneasy path, we make 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 and 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, velcro, laces,
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, dancing in threes,
in twos
an open palm, caramel, splits the sea;
spare change, spare change, he says
and below sits a man
on a flattened box in rags,
a simple sign at his feet,
a pathetic collection of coins,
one milky marble misses nothing,
patient in its mouse-hole
the other eye downcast, reverent,
as if in prayer.

Luke Otley