Listening To A Street’s Voicebox

Standing attention to the sound of first shouts
post dance floor, I listened with my stabiliser wings
clipped by taxi rank breath of engines, a howl
in the concrete cube alley outside Revolution
where a punch drunk fist blew echo holes
in the throat throat throat…
It turned the whole street into a procession
with blue light sirens and kebabs spilled,
neon vomit on the high heeled
‘Oh no,’ flamingos, pencilled into their skirts,
holding onto their fannies with their clutch bags,
squawking with tiptoes around the rugby kit mobs
oofing the championship brawl of the curb,
oof oof to each fist landed, the proper Reading lad
beating a Northerner for looking at him funny,
at least, that’s what he thinks he said,
in testimony as the law enforcing, luminous jackets pile
batons on his boxer brains, echoes his claims
that he’s not a racist, he just hates Northeners
and I recognise his bloody eyebrows from school
and his mouthy grit stained lips, spitting curses
and baseball bats at the officers, who monotone
their radio, cancelling backup, checking in the arrest,
test, test, they boom the mic, as a band starts in a bar
down the road, swooping the echo attention
of the crowd massing to a shout fight,
where a guys is almost killed for his accent
by someone I used to break juice boxes with
and watched him hiss at pupils, teachers,
without ever trying to stop him.

Elevator Small Talk

The elevator stops like it’s supposed to.
The bell hop drops without reason,
his little uniform a tidy pile on the floor.
The number 3.571222… recurring
is lit up on the door. Ross, Man 1
in the elevator, is covered in mud,
holding a football, running practice
in his head, like each connection in his brain
is focused on where the ball should have gone
but didn’t, because his team lacks
the understanding of synergy required
to complete successive movements up field,
to result in goals score to then make tournaments
and champions of themselves
in front of their families, who are mildly pleased
that their son’s hobby has finally culminated
in being paid. Man 2, played by Julian, poetry teacher, shifts.

Julian assess Ross on the basis of the thought
bubble fumigating out of his skull and is surprised
that someone in a football kit is capable of formulating
critical thoughts. He than looks to the corner
where a girl stands, bored, and registers that
sweet nothing is pluming from her scalp. He thinks.
Breaking silence is an option. He looks as the pile
of bell hop. EMERGENCY is also an option, but
“Isn’t this a rather poetic situation?!” Julian muses,
clicking the elsewhere heads of the girl and Ross.
They both sigh, like they were counting up to a point to do it.
Julian shrugs and wonders why he said that aloud.

The girl, who is Emily today, lights up.
Julian and Ross take equal turns to address
the NO SMOKING sign, who shrugs and lights up as well
at her blatant disregard for elevator etiquette.
The bell hop still has nothing to say.

Ross and Julian watch Emily.
They conclude that she is at ‘that stage.’
Ross reckons she’s a 7.
Julian convinces himself she’s too young.
Emily turns the radio on in her thoughts,
but there is no signal. Julian sees white noise.
Ross thinks about Talk Sport, which lubricates
the elevator with commentator chatter.
The elevator is getting sick of the smoke
collecting inside its stomach.

Julian coughs. Emily eyes, puffs, approaches,
puts out the cigarette on his belly,
which is pushing button holes
that he has safety pinned shut. He doesn’t wince,
or utter hurt notes, just observes.
Ross ‘is like what the fuck?’ But loses interest
to fantasy football role plays in his bubble.

He begins to utter monotone gibberish.
“A passes to B to C to D to E all the way down the alphabet,
back to B to B1 to B52 to A to C to AA to L, L, L! L!
L sidewinds, L manoeuvres, L evades taxes
with his kicker control, L shoots, GOAL!”
Ross screams, continuously, no pause for air.
Julian, unable to withstand the fag butt searing his gut,
howls free verse; “You have to wear two hats,
it’ll give you a sense of Brio and purple language,
don’t you always take note of unfortunate situations,
like if you get beat up in Brixton, you can take solace in that fact
that you’ll get a good poem out of it at least!”
Emily mumbles in retort:
“I am sixteen, I have problems,
I am sixteen, I have problems,
I am sixteen, I have problems.
No one relates to me.” Julian comments
on the poem’s interesting form
and Ross runs out of breath at hearing Emily speak.

The bell hop returns from his lunch and fixes the lift
by pressing up. The hubbub of the elevator fills with helium
talk, until they are spat out at highest pitch.
The three people return to being quiet,
in separate doors, awaiting the next bout of small talk.
The elevator descends, like it’s supposed to.