Hammersmith Bridge Photo Poems

I found out it’s National Poetry Day here in the UK today, so I thought I’d write some lines and share them with a few pictures I took last night (this morning) down by The Thames…

Hammersmith Bridge #2

Chasing Shadows Before Dawn

Clip – softly,

Ting – faintly,

Something comes

Out of the darkness.

Staring at the light,

The viewfinder holds a patient gaze.

Clip – stronger,

Ting – louder,

Getting closer.

Turn and see a man,

Rocking down the promenade,

He limps between the shadows

And slaps his crutch to the floor.

Ageing, denim-clad,

Could be a Status Quo roadie,

20 years lost –

Searching for a way back

To yesterday’s dream

At three on a Thursday morn!

Or an old seaman, perhaps,

Lost his way to rum –

These riverside decks

The only ones he’s left to roam.

He sees me.

Pupils fix.

He bangs the metal down

Harder – crack!

Stronger – clop!

Coming faster, course fixed.

Close enough to swing and miss,

Close enough to swing and hit,

He stops –

And eyes meet wild eyes.

I see you you, they say,

I’m here, says the metal,

Come, if ye dare!

Lost in a madding moment,

Souls glimpse, fumble,

Oblivion slips by

On the ripples of a passing tide.

A breath,

And a slow, slow


From Mad Old Ahab –

He starts up, grimacing,

Crashes staff to creaking timber,

Rocking right past the bow,

Striding onwards into the night,

To chase shadows before dawn.

Hammersmith Bridge #3

Taste it on the air

The shuff-shuff

Comes slowly,

Barely above the burr of

The faint river, pushing

Its way out to sea.

Gazing on the bridge

I hear it coming –

A body


Along the boardwalk.

He comes closer

And I see a hand

Holding up trousers,

Old and grey and stained.

His beard, long and matted,

Hat grubby, clothes torn.


And he’s shuffling

Down the Thames footpath,

Willing his feet to move

And his trousers to stay aloft.

“Mooooorning”, he says, upbeat,

Sliding his body by.

“How’s it going?”, I reply,


I can see how it’s going for him –


His whole life’s a fucking nightmare.

Homeless. Destitute. Filthy.

He lives beyond the realms of which

Most of us would wish to exist

For even an hour.

I watch him walk away,

Under the bridge and into darkness.

The back of his trousers wet,

Stained dark, lacquery  –

Is that… mud? –

Is that?!…

And then the stench hits me.

Feces – human feces.

He’s covered in it.

I can taste it on the air,

Disgusting. Sickening.

I bite down. Poor man.

It stays with me a long time –

I can taste it now.


And fetid,


I could have gone after him,

Offered money, a friendly word,


But that smell, that awful smell…

No-one would blame me.

But then No-one’s of No importance –

No-one gives a shit anyway,

Not really…

But No-ones not me,

And No-one’s not you,

And No-one’s not him.

Hammersmith Bridge #1


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