By: Paul Chafer


An intrepid outsider just visiting London;

Smitten, dazzled, by stunning illuminations

From within a black cab, transporting me,

Not only weaving in present day airy streets,

But through stacked layers of storied history;

Some dark, treacherous and dastardly sinister,

Some light, celebratory and blithely triumphant.


On alighting from the Hackney Carriage,

(use of the word ‘carriage’ emphasising

a vivid stretch of a willing imagination)

Museum of London beckons, offering pleasure,

Absorbing a tableau of delightful treasure,

Engaging unfettered thoughts and feelings,

Absorbing echoed cries of distant past eras,

Reminders of who we were and who we are,

Plunging archaic depths of vicarious displays,

Delicate fingers pressing upon vibrant pulses

Within this webbed tomb of sanitised decadence.


In the coolness of encroaching night

She slumbers, this anchored sprawling behemoth

Suffering barking dogs, wailing of infants,

Sweet kisses of lust in cardboard-strewn alleys,

Screeches from a gaggle of hen-partying girls,

Screams from urban foxes, cries of a feral cat,

Curtailed by hurried rumble of clattering steel,

Train arteries busy pumping, wheel to wheel,

Ferrying the masses, crammed together classes,

Silent tubes exposing the numbness we feel,

At destinations end our tensions slyly unpeel.


Busy pedestrians skirting human detritus;

Shunning, vagabonds, tramps and thieves,

Amidst intermittent beeps of frantic car horns,

Squealing brakes and hot roaring engines,

She encompasses this amorphous miasma,

Towering skyward, snaking deep underground;

A blaze of coloured light, her own silent sound,

Inhabitants ‘pigged together’ the majority above,

But many, ignored and mistreated, surviving below,

Recognised, yet avoided; pretending, not to know.


Ancient sewers, dead rivers and even deader bones;

As far back as hunter gathers, howling and rutting,

Stout wooden pilings now sodden river sentinels

Whilst fire-blackened-pain from early conflagrations,

Blaze through time, ashes of destruction, no deterrent;

Romans plying trades in walled Londinium’, aye,

Emotional fingerprints etched into carved stone,

Resilient through Viking and Saxon times alike,

She survives, strives and thrives, our proud Lady,

Welcoming all, galleons, tea clippers and schooners,

Surging through her carotid artery, such spoils

For the Big Smoke, tea houses and coffee shops,

Parks and palaces, bridges, tunnels and hovels;

Where now, the bedecked Town Crier? Is all well?


Brash glitz and glamour of threatened Tin Pan Alley,

Cultural elite behind facades of Doric columns

While Roman foundations bold form, hold firm,

Twisting through the underneath, far beyond forever,

London crunches into the future, unstoppable,

Embracing humanity in a technological fervour,

She adapts, snarls, struts, proud and confident,

Akin to a sentient beast lapping up our needs;

Feeding desires, never judging, only accepting.


My very being saturated within this teeming city.

Of the city, I’m now enmeshed in the infrastructure;

Heart, mind and spirit willingly shackled, captivated by

Cold agglomeration of steel, glass, concrete and stone,

Wreathed in transient emotions of warm flesh and bone;

Giving and breathing life unto all, even me:

An intrepid outsider just visiting London.