Christmas Shopping

            The Carols




The cold came sudden and hard;

the sky bright and clear..


Through the cityís back ways,

metal on metal, heavily

over the tangle of  bright rails,

the train shudders and terminates.


( ii )


frost along the leaf

sunlight golden through the frost-

the city swung with lights




The open market is a cornucopia

crammed for a heaving hoi-polloi.


Perched on a roof, a starling, beak agape,

boot-black beads half-lidded in bliss


harks to the rippling murmurs

that flow from the dark rainbow of his throat;


and then above the traffic noise,

from every shelf and ledge,


the thrilling murmuration chimes.

Milk-white, the moon breasts the profile of the city.




Mother Earth billows up Briggate,

all arse and anorak,

rolls like a laden galleon along Kirkgate,

four carriers per fist,

and a family to feed, for Godís sake,

sashays to the music of the streets.




Insulted by poverty, badged with age,

he musters the last crumbs with his grimy thumb,

drains to the dregs and dares the streets.


Away for the day, 

from the unreasoned rages of the estate

that lap against his window

like a morning tide of pain;

shits through his letterbox;

tries the latch after midnight;

wants him dead.


The night wind down by the bus stop,

sharp as thorns, cold as malice,

plucks at his trousers,

burns portents in his eyes.




The city falls away, dark grips the train.

I hold my granddaughter tight.

We watch oases of light drift past.

I marvel at her small hands

pressed against the pane of night,

the miracle of her spread fingers.

My ear to her back

adores the tides of her young life.



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