Four Poems by Oliver Dixon

Arid black
   seedheads, rattling
like shamanic 
   percussion; skeletal 
     umbellifers our pygmy
       drags indoors ( ‘Daddy,
what’s this for? Where
       have the colours

bouquets on an M4-
     railing, their weather-
blanked tributes, cellophane
     shrouds; cairn
         of decomposed

      derelict shrine
to what stunted, bedraggled


scooped-out moon
                                  an open bracket
the twitchy stars
                           legible for once
beyond London’s amber-ish 
trashed on the balcony
                                       we start to trace out
                                     no less imaginary
than that first Babylonian
                                            gesturing upwards
convinced he’d discovered
                                             animals and deities 
                        across the chaos of sky
 there’s Lada Minor       
                                a misshapen two-seater
                   flightless malevolent
bird  O’Ryan’s Balti
                                a Galway curry-house
The Snow Plough
                                The She-Yeti
Empson’s Beard
                            A Map of Sri Lanka 
tear-dropping earthward
                                           The Willendorf Venus
as daubed by a tot
                                and why not abstracts
                                           The Staveless Score

of star-notes ad-libbed
                                           these chance-consolations
have no ceiling 
                           fictive patternings
lost track of by morning
                                      but copyrighted now
by the backwards neon C 
                                          of the moon 
                                                              our open secret

                            ROUGH GUIDE

In Crouch End the people have no qualms.
There is no consensus on footwear
in Bethnal Green. What was the library
in Thornton Heath is now a greasy spoon.
Bayswater is famous for nihilists. Seven Sisters:
a mecca for the underdog. You cannot park
your van in Clapham North. A year in Raynes Park
does wonders for one’s CV. Don’t go
to Upper Norwood on Tuesdays. The feral youth
of Kentish Town shoot Ritalin. Redevelopments
are underway in Bow. Neasden has a thriving
New Wave scene. Jenga is massive on Primrose Hill.
Try Cricklewood for vintage uniforms,
Honor Oak for ethnic pulses. Urban badgers
abound in Dulwich West. For vernal picnics,
you could do worse than Willesden Green.
The dockers’ slums of Bermondsey
now command six figures. Penge
is earmarked for a hi-tech face-lift. A blue plaque
for Italo Svevo is one of the must-sees
of Charlton. The charity-shops of Purley
are a godsend. Racial harmony is alive and well
in Hounslow East. An Eritrean bookies has opened
its doors in Ealing. What was the cafe
in Thornton Heath is now a panini-bar.
The loft-conversions of Shoreditch are ironic
installations. Graffiti in seventeen languages
adorns the walls of Barons Court. Welcome
to vibrant Brixton: desirable, trouble-free.

                INDEFINITE HIATUS

No-one had any notion what to do next,
there were as many alternatives
as there were cut-price bargains in the sale;

not that it mattered, after all, in days
this vaguely stitched-together: the clouds
over the building-site were not quite there,
dusted fingerprints on a windowpane;

a pigeon’s footsteps through solidifying cement
leave scripts that will no doubt outlast us,
mistaken by future historians as our holy writ…

It all goes back to that long afternoon
in Nolan’s, the epiphanies of youth

coming to sweet FA, the jukebox crooning
that golden oldie: Halfway through life’s fiasco,
having strayed from company policy,

I found myself in a dingy bar…The piecing-together
of a new enigma, but with Yesterday’s Answers
Printed Below, never today’s

eg. I can’t get across to my five-year-old
what cassette-tape is, unspooled,
festooned from a maple in glittering lianas,
imagined pop-songs broadcast to the wind:

there they are now, just within earshot,
like summer’s hushed surrender across town:

or is that the drunken snoring
of a homeless teenager
passed-out in the empty library?

Oliver Dixon blogs at Ictus. His book Human Form is forthcoming from Penned in the Margins.

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