City Heat-Wave

Midnight. A last quiver of heat simmers.
Paving slabs ooze, melting gum pulls stickily at shoes.
Clings on to warmth laid down by the sun’s long visit.
Air breathes soft.
Laced with whispers of exhaust and burgers.
Barbecues make back-yard festivals.
Neighbours clink cans. Sit on doorsteps,
discuss the day, lack of council commitment
to their streets.
A gentle tang of tarmac ghosts from a cambers curve.
Tiny black globules bleed, glisten dark menisci,
just beginning to matte with dust.
Pulsing reggae drifts from a high-rise.
Floors below, two men on a balcony pass a spliff.
Its red tip a firefly weaving bridges.
Amiability drapes the city. Windows are wide.
A night bus rumbles by, doors open,
fishing for a breeze. Sodium haze domes the night.
A ‘Blues’ is firing up. Bass rules. Dread-locked men
pass slabs of Red Stripe through a window.
Bob Marley pounds through its open mouth.
Tonight, no sirens wail. No jagged noise intrudes.
Even cats are dancing as they flit about a bus-stop bin,
claw discarded fish and chips.
Lampposts lay stepping-stones of light. I use them.
Sway my hips from one to another.
Make my tipsy way home.

Miki Byrne