A late sun slowly swerves behind the flats.
Foxes skulk between dustbins.
This playground empties like a name
called over and over to come home.
Windows paint lit squares against the black,
one beside another, each dwindling block
docked like an ocean liner for the dark.
That young man’s waiting again
when you enter the estate at night.
He stops you politely
with the thinnest echo of a smile,
says Don’t think I’ll wait
till Saturday to slit your throat.
He’s gone now, scared you years ago.
No-one shouts your name to come back home.
Climb the stairs: tattooed on your skin,
that sandpaper scrape your shoes make
with each step. Reach number 45 again
(third storey, red door) but the keys are lost,
your pockets empty.
No-one answers, or whoever answers
never heard of anyone who looks like you.
Dancing In The Street
That bass, those drums, her voice call me closer.
Are you ready for a brand new beat?
Two small horses drop onto the carpet
from my hands. I reach the room’s bright corner
where our radiogram sings Summer’s here
and the time is right for dancing in the street.
Gold mesh over the speaker hums like heat.
I kneel, press my ear against it, turn it louder
until drums, brass, chorus, tambourines
stroke my bones and stun my blood. I want
to live there in Chicago, down in New Orleans,
in New York City where the women chant
and stamp. “Turn it down!” my mother screams
as floorboards rattle, walls fall apart.
Does death interrupt like this? No preparation.
Headlights flood our faces; the smash hard enough
to shake mauve roses through our skin.
A singed, smoky smell. Air-bags sag their rough
creased clouds in silence when I ask
Are you alright? You have to be.
When you answer we stumble for the dark,
shouts and shadows, breeze, a creaky tree.
I wake and sleep, you wake and sleep.
Headlights stun our windscreen.
We’re back in the moment, running a tape
that might have finished us, didn’t, a spin
of tyres, the second before your voice
answers everything and I touch your face.
Copyright © Robert Hamberger, 2015.