This was written some years ago, not long after one of the IRA’s bombs in London.  It is about the way life carries on regardless, and what drives that.

CITY PUB

Period interior – etched glass,
stained panelling and wrought-iron stairs:
lunchtime, with everybody standing
on scrubbed floorboards, almost no chairs:

suits or striped shirt-sleeves, couple of pints
talk about work or last night’s match,
balance the roast-beef sandwich on
a ledge, refuel and then despatch.

Buildings still shuttered, road-blocks and scaffolds,
reconstruction going on –
the tourist who has plucked up courage
to come here, close to the recent bomb

might well feel daunted by the brashness,
well-used air, with little space
left for spectators straying into
this extension of the work-place.

Faces and names may change, the need
to make a living knows no pause;
people do business, notwithstanding
dogmas, politicians, wars.

 

This second poem is a reaction to more recent events.   I had reason to get off the tube at Westminster on the morning after the attack that killed people on the bridge and at the gates of Parliament.   The place was relatively quiet, with a lot of investigation still going on and a palpably different atmosphere to usual.

AFTER THE ATTACK

grey sky with helicopters
the station quiet traffic sparse
roads closed by flashing lights

still with a biting breeze
people effect a tentative
normality taking to transport

carefully remembering
how long the odds are still
just as with any lottery

yet always that teasing thought
– What if my number? – then
everything would change

unthinkably
in moments life
never be the same again

 

 

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