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

Nod

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

Dragging

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.

Half-three-in-the-morning

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,

Foolishly.

I can see how it’s going for him –

Badly.

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.

Tart

And fetid,

Invasive.

I could have gone after him,

Offered money, a friendly word,

Anything.

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

03/10/13

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