I’ve thought for several hours about the child
at the supermarket, pushed round by his Mum,
his eyes fixed upwards, mouth open wide

and every now and then flapping his arms.
We crossed paths maybe six or seven times
and I was quick to look away to some

eye level blurb for a discounted item.
Though at one point I veered into the path
of the lifestyle guru famous for his schemes

on how to gain the maximum of worth
from monthly lower middle wage packets.
A household name, this minister of thrift,

yet all I noticed was his single basket.
There is a silent sadness that speaks out,
our inner lives shine through, we cannot mask it

as we all shuffle off to the self checkout.



I run two laps during the magic hour
and from a certain point I shoot a glance
toward the city’s growing clutch of towers

then back towards the sloping hills that once
were used for grazing sheep in the Great War.
Below, the workers in their council vans

have knocked off from their current daily chore,
installing drainage to tackle the lakes
that form downhill after every downpour,

though it seems every penny that we make
flows upwards, zooming through the city’s veins
to reach the ground floor as the street lights wake

to rise storey by storey til they gain
the penthouse vantage point from which they fly
to offshore spawning grounds where they remain

oblivious to our receding lives.


I voyage across South London to see
if I can source tonight’s ingredients
without using Tesco or Sainsburys.

I precure chicken portions from the quaint
free range organic butchery in Dulwich
then scored my veggies from the cockney gents

who never pronounce tees and drop each aitch
unless they’re calling Wayne Rooney a twa-t!
I now admit I almost met my match

buying ketchup from the franchise market
part owned by local Bangladeshis
and some shady Irish conglomerate.

I spanned the borough, walked by terraces,
gated communities and rough estates
which still makes me a bit of a pussy

compared to ancestors that knew the Great
Famine of 1845, or those
hunter gatherers that made it through the Late

Pleistocene epoch. At least I choose
to keep my pennies from the corporate mammoth
and get to know these gritty Southwark streets,

walking that extra mile for fair trade houmous.

Canto LXIV

The ground has opened outside HMV
to give us all a view of London’s guts,
the pipes for gas and electricity,

the arteries that fuel the storefront lights,
cross-cross over dry cement and sand
as two men in hi-vis and builder’s hats

stare into it, one listens to commands
then answers back into his radio,
“It’s looking bad, the way the damage stands

I’d say five minutes til the bastard blows”
We all hear him and yet, we shuffle on
into our retail paradise to browse

PlayStation games and Blu Rays, gaze upon
the endless discount items, aisle to aisle,
for one day all of this may well be gone

if that hole widens from metres to miles
or growing cracks from the construction site
trespass hallowed ground of shopping malls.

We must shop on and not give in to fright,
as long as change jangles within our pockets—
just look up to the early Christmas lights

and leave it to the men in yellow jackets.

Canto XXII

The future of this burly East End town:
a clusterfuck of LCDs and glass
perched on top of businesses torn down

before their natural use by dates had passed.
Some endure in the postcode’s marginalia
among the run down boozers and long grass:

the traveller sites and street names still familiar,
all shadowed by its looming call to prayer,
consumerism’s Sagrada Familia.

Dear reader, I guess it’s hard for you to care
as I tap the screen of the smartphone I wield,
not haggling down the market, I’m right here,

failing to be leftfield in Westfield.

Canto XIV

Ain’t buying your Blu Ray, Mr¬† Lucas,
you’ve tinkered with your babies far too much
and I’m not one for stirring up a ruckus,

I bought the DVDs, I bought the merch—
Darth Vader piggy banks; Lego X-wings—
I know you shouldn’t care, you’re stinking rich

and I should’ve got rid of childish things.
But childhood always returns to my thoughts
and I can still recall a fair few things:

the happy lack of any flying robots;
the older version of Anakin’s ghost;
Solo’s blaster firing off the first shot;

Jabba’s palace never played the host
to a song and dance catastrophe, but oh,
the crap that really winds me up the most

is when you made Darth Vader cry out Nooo!
and turned a shot of underplayed pathos
into a third rate Simpsons episode.

So I’m running from Start Wars like the clappers
to grudgingly admit advancing years.
This sixty quid ain’t filling up your coffers,

I choose instead to spunk the lot on on beer

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