Lost in London by Georgie Hart

I am lost in a sea of formless faces.

The crowd mummers and mutters like a beast,

splashing against the concrete walls

of tenant buildings incessantly like the tide,

the constant swish of steps is its own language,

taps and slaps. Incomprehensible.

The city is a storm of life that bubbles and roils

and I have been cast adrift.

I hear screams of my name like gulls calls

as I race over London Bridge,

my little legs flying in my yellow wellingtons.

I vanish in a scattering of grey feathers

and muddy puddle water,

laughing as pigeons take to the sky.

 

 

About the author:

GeorgieGeorgie Hart is an English Literature and Creative Writing Student at Uplands Community College who hopes to go on to become a proper writer. Living in close proximity to quite a few libraries’, she spends most of her time reading just about anything she can get her hands on. She loves poetry and when she’s not working, she likes to visit London.

 

Photograph © Fabio Venni

A Hundred Tastes of Me by Jhilmil Breckenridge

I am the whisper of a leaf in the breeze

I am the flutter of a butterfly against the white honeysuckle so sweet

I am the gurgle of the flowing river

I am the wind in the willows

I am the waitress picking up coffee cups in the cafe

I am the old woman reading a newspaper against the window

I am the siren of the police car as it drives by

I am the laughter of an old man who twirls his moustache

I am the chatter of a young child

I am the taste of sugar on your tongue

I am the scent of a hundred roses in your nose

I am the sound of plaintive notes on a flute in a land far away

I am the smell of candles and incense in a wooden church

I am the flavour of Marmite on hot buttered toast

I am the feel of the cool granite table against my wrist

I am the refugee who hides in subway tunnels

I am the man who cheers for Arsenal

I am the woman buying anti ageing creams

I am the child kicking stones on the path

I am the smell of rain

I am the taste of freedom

I am the sun upon your skin

I am the honeyed kiss of your lover on the inside of your wrist

I am the taste of violence upon your lips

I am the woman in the red dress and the ebony skin dancing

I am the poet on Speaker’s Corner

I am the woman licking her fingers as she eats

I am the autumn leaves that rustle under your feet

I am the man checking his phone

I am you and you are me and we are a hundred other things

And we are all unseen, forgotten, experienced, reviled, overlooked, and replaceable

And the music plays, the clock ticks, and we look away

About the author:644677_10152082376660655_708559998_n
Jhilmil Breckenridge was born in a sleepy town in India and travelled most of her childhood. She was always found with a book in her hands and still is! She is filled with self doubt now that she has actually embarked on the arduous journey of crafting her first novel.

Photograph © Chris JL

Silly in Spitalfields by Amanda Fuller

I left Serious procrastinating by Liverpool Street station,

And skipped into Spitalfields looking for Ludicrous.

In this place, in the city but not of the city,

Lissome youths in skinny black jeans loiter by stalls,

Selling things that no-one needs.

Rockabilly chick, in my splurty out dress,

Petticoats flouncing,

I twirled and giggled through the Goblin Market into the Water Poet,

Curtseyed gracefully, accepting a liquid offering,

Prepared to hold court.

Later, we may find sustenance,

Or resume the dance on sticky floors.

It’s time to let go of plans, responsibility and care,

To run, to laugh, to pirouette, to dare.

Leave me here or join me,

But beware!

The labyrinth is tricksy

And the way back

Is by no means guaranteed.

 

 

About the author:Irregularchoicelips
Amanda Fuller is a mother of two and a Software Development Manager for a global engineering organisation based in the City of London. She has been writing poetry and prose fiction for many years, and is delighted to be studying for her MA in Creative Writing with the University of Westminster. Amanda’s writing explores topics such as gender and identity, sexuality, childhood, parenthood and city life.

 

Photograph © Jasn

Visible by M.E. Rolle

Nothing is unseen in London.

 

On Oxford Street, a woman adjusts a turned strap

briefly exposing flesh to the lenses above her.

It could border on erotic to the right pair of eyes.

 

In Green Park, a boy kicks at a pigeon that has no toes on one foot

‘Fucking garbage,’ he says, aping the voice of his father.

It flies away, its path monitored.

 

Around the corner in Soho, a first date.

Their first kiss seen.

 

In a large doorway in Camden, a small dog with matted hair curls

at the end of a filthy blanket,

under which sleeps the only person she’s ever trusted.

They can’t give each other much, but they stay warm together.

Their tender exchanges are the subject of films no one watches.

 

A discarded length of plastic bunting swirls in circles in the wind

around the base of a statue in Holland Park,

catching in it bits of garbage and curled brown leaves.

Even this dance of refuse is recorded.

 

In London, nothing is unseen.

Mechanical viewers observe it all,

placed strategically – everywhere – for your protection.

 

 

About the author:11081047_10205291567701520_3084136575215819956_n

M.E. Rolle studied English and Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She holds a J.D. in Law from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an LL.M. in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School. After a twelve year career as an attorney for U.S. federal government, M.E. decided to pursue her passion for writing in London. She is currently taking part in the University of Westminster’s program, MA Creative Writing: Writing the City.

 

Photograph © Steve Rotman

 

 

Flight of Falling by Gunter Silva

When an angel is thrown out of his kingdom, he falls with force and fury onto the city. Raise your eyes to the infinite sky and you see how his divine form moves and tears apart through the air, making luminous flashes, like the flickering meteorite which disintegrates, weightless on touching the atmosphere.

The fleeting friction of his figure against the firmament creates a dull, poetic sound, a sad and distant lament.

Then I shiver and start walking up the street, towards Moorgate, with my leather jacket shaken by the wind and my cigarette starting to burn the corners of my lips. Arriving at Leadenhall, while the flashes of fire rush flickering above my head, I think that London is a damn Peruvian piñata on the point of pulverising itself.

The quartered body collapses like a shower of stars, radiant and metallic, like a storm rushing quick towards the earth, which follows its course, orbiting with indifference, as if nothing were happening right before its eyes.

The hands, the fingers, the feet, fall and will fall with real shame, the same shame that you feel when you are defeated and vanquished by fate. At a crossroads, I am able to see part of the wing embedded in the cement, reflected in the glass and steel of the skyscraper. The lines are perfect and have a lethal beauty. Then I stop and smile, and the stars, and the huge sky begins burning bountifully over my kingdom of dreams.

 

 

Translation by Katherine Capaldi

 

407553_10150566650806798_1178064009_nGunter Silva studied law and political science at the Universidad Católica de Santa María in Peru and holds a BA in the Arts and Humanities. He is currently completing a MA in Creative Writing at the University of Westminster. He has published two books of short stories. Crónicas de Londres (Atalaya. Lima, 2012) and Homesick (SU. Miami, 2013). Many of his short stories were included in Anthologies and translated into various languages.

Opiated by M.E Rolle

He told me all was foggy that day.

We were in different cities, so I didn’t realize that foggy was a metaphor

for being tired of dealing—

with the scores of people,

the scores of thoughts he couldn’t control,

the scores of prescription drugs;

opiated.

 

He had said that city life could break you down if you weren’t up for it.

The crushing hordes of people,

all of them in a hurry,

all of them bracing against you.

Like a tide of bodies pressing you back,

they could carry you out to sea like a wave,

if you let them.

 

11081047_10205291567701520_3084136575215819956_nM.E. Rolle studied English and Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She holds a J.D. in Law from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an LL.M. in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School. After a twelve year career as an attorney for U.S. federal government, M.E. decided to pursue her passion for writing in London. She is currently taking part in the University of Westminster’s program, MA Creative Writing: Writing the City.

Broken in the City by Jhilmil Breckenridge

The city lives in us

Broken and searching

Fragmented by life and the city

We stumble on


The man in the City with the stooping back

Worries about his annual bonus

His assistant brings him coffee

After spitting in it


The shopgirl wearing too much makeup

Wonders if her boyfriend will call

The boyfriend texts another girl

Blowing smoke rings over the Thames


The young mother pushing the pram

With a baby bundled up in a red blanket

Plans another day in the mall

Though her credit card is maxed


Teenage schoolgirls bunking school

Rush into a matinee of the latest blockbuster

Giggling in line checking their phones

Trying to blend in


The city lives in us

Selfish whorish lustful

Amazing beautiful new

And we spin stumble and move


Lila and me for Delhi TalksJhilmil Breckenridge was born in a sleepy town in India and travelled most of her childhood. She was always found with a book in her hands and read whatever she found! She is most interested in writing prose fiction though has started flirting with the idea of screenplays.

These are the places I remember you by Marie Lefeuvre

I remember you at Rue Faubourg Saint-Denis,
You held my hand on the way to the metro station,
I had a wheeled suitcase in the other, so it must have been a little awkward,
Bumping along,
But I remember only that it was dark and I kissed you,
And went to London

It was snowing in London, and I was eating my dinner in a coat.
You told me it was snowing in Paris too,
And I looked up at the flakes falling from the sky.
My fingers were red and shaking.

I remember throwing my mattress out on to the pavement,
It was hot and sunny and I was wearing an orange shirt.
I laid down on the mattress and felt invincible.
I remember your wedding.

 

About the Author

Marie Lefeuvre studies French Literature at Paris VI – La Sorbonne. She enjoys writing poems about affairs of the heart in English, as they require her to think about language in a different way.

 

GUILT / TO A MOTH by Stephanie Kocsis

Night-wing dancer, your bright-lit pain
is my own. Your spiral flight around
my bedside lamp was inexplicable
once. I think of science class, the girls
preening in the front row, and how you live
for only one week, to breed and die.
You, who navigates a straight line,
by moonlight are trapped in my electric cloche.
You waste yourself on anthrocentric celestials
while I, diurnal, with decades to breed,
eclipse the slow-burning stars.

About the Author

Stephanie Kocsis is a Queensland-based poet. She has recently been published in Stilts and is directing the reinvented Words & Wine Literary Collective. She is currently working on a collection that explores the tensions between domesticity and landscape in postcolonial spaces.

Artwork by Coen Keyte

 

A City by Reed Smith

While its enemies made good their promises
The cuckoos were heralding in the darkness

Tio Armando felt the urge
To bury his sack of gold coins below the garden

Instead of sweet blue bahia the remaining cows
Grazed on Sakrete bags of ready-mix

Fear and starvation tapped their linchpins
Like a road crew into withering axons

The innocent taught their students
To feign ignorance

They had the freedom to walk
In the weak sun and take in the evening breeze

Nothing moved them so much as the cold winds
Bleaching the slag-gray bay some mornings

Or the rooms now lit with candlelight
Glittering above the streets like lanterns

One Monday a third dimension of suspicion arrived
And went door to door with his clipboard collecting names

The sidewalks were wet—sloppy with fresh rain
Their footsteps left inhuman faces on the stone

There were monsters disguised as friends
Assassins—rogues who knew the best chemicals to sniff

It was cold—December—no one sought to play a part
Of their own choosing

Where the sky broke from evening
Thousands came together and there was night

 

About the Author

Reed Smith attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the University of Texas, where he was awarded a James A Michener fellowship. He lives in South Florida with his wife and family.

 

The City by Anastasia Polkanova

Stop it! It is inhuman to keep me in this dusty cement box, gobbled by fungus! I bet it is just the same in your head, you, freaking educator.

I will escape from here. Twenty minutes left. Twenty minutes hold me from the abiding, nearly habitual rush. Not much…and at the same time an infernally long patch.

Incredible tension – and tear down! I break out.

I am being dissected by the sharp cold winter air. My lungs are burning and my heart (surprisingly I have one, the doctors tend to assert its existence) is echoing my heavy landings, my anguished but somehow firm steps.

I experience the fever every single day. This torturing but sweetest, addictable, taming pain of unbearable desire. My personal aesthesia of the intention, of the target, of the aim. The nagging, morbid sensation you are unable to resist. The only silhouette, the only gestalt you are able to see while the whole city seems a blunt memory of a tasteless nightmare… You.

I run across the grey square, jumping over the huge familiar cracks in the asphalt.

Down the aseptic street, along a weirdly, diagonally curved path that comes through several yards, past blocks of houses.

Houses. Each is a pimple of a house. All alike though differing in their ugliness and spreading. Spreading as if there were an epidemic, forcing to build these useless cement boxes. As if a gigantic toddler had no cubes to play with and people risked to please it – or at least, if the toddler were not happy, to find an asylum in these. Like there can be an asylum.

They want to sell me a flat. I get their calls every day. In fact, I am homeless. Not houseless, however. And here is a fact. Buy whatever fancy flats – you will never have a home. I know some people. Gorgeous apartments, shabby homes. Why not give up this ridiculous prison? Breathe in some fresh air and accept all the essence of being a loser. This might be called freedom.

Running. Seeing – finally seeing something – an accurate piece of gold, sparkling humbly. The church, you usually avoid to walk by when with me. It is as fragile as you. Thin, exile lines of the steeple, in which I recognise your brows, your cheekbones and your hair, calm me for a few moments. Hidden with the dusty curtains of houses already, I don ‘t see the church any more.

The city is full of houses.

All of a sudden, I start recalling the half-an-hour-ago events.

Prison-looking classroom. I cannot refrain my wrath. I detest this plain person with shallow eyes, trying to make me believe that I am unaware of the great knowledge, which is in her disposal. In hers – and nobody else’s.  Extremely eager to get me to respect her, trying to run me down… She will never be the one she imagines in her head.

An old woman is standing on the corner. She’s here every day. So am I. We even recognise each other. She’s eager to sell belief and hope. Anyway, she’s far better than the one in the classroom. Not arrogant. Willing to help, not to feel superior. In a way, I feel apprehension for this old lady.

There’s a book in her puckered hands. It’s rather thick and rather threadbare as well. I always run too fast to read the title. Something, starting with a G and ending with a –pel. She offers me some kind of support; she suggests my getting into the ideas she reads in the book. She does every day despite knowing that I’ll refuse.

The city is full of fools.

There is a tiny shop, lost among all kinds of supermarkets. I pass it every day. And every day I watch the poor creatures crawling and dropping off and lurching out of it. It sells cheap alcohol. I guess, illegally. Cannot claim for sure.

So many times a day am I keen to enter and get a bottle of anything recommended, so to say, by the regular customers. It is unbearable sometimes. Sometimes it seems the only way. I am powerless and desperate – and there is no need to keep on, I am no longer interested, what is going to happen next. I am empty. I am only alive when you are by my side. All the other time, oh Lord! I don’t know what can fill me the other time. At least any longer.

Then I observe those, whom I am willing to assimilate to. Talking to themselves, crying, shouting in despair, hitting everything on the way, falling and not getting up – and suddenly I realize, I am already in this condition – so why bother.

The shop also offers a large variety of adult movies. Can’t help wondering, how it manages to succeed in selling those in the era of the Internet. Probably, the shop’s success is in its essence. It sells pleasures. Fake – but who cares.

The city is full of sins.

I feel my cell vibrating in my pocket. The shrink. No, I am not coming, as usual. Texts from acquaintances lacking in logic. They ask whether I would like to talk – why should I if I never answer your calls?

Not a single text from you. You know, I’m coming. You might even feel I’m getting closer.  From time to time I think you may be scared of me. You never show but we both know I can kill you one day – so that I finally have the guts to get rid of myself.

“Your depression lasts way too long. I have this psychologist…” or “Heard of these pills…” It is all about selling me pills.

The city is full of doctors.

I am exhausted. Seriously. I breathe too hard, I am panting. I have to stop. I am going to faint, otherwise. Every day at this point. Damn.

Is that you? So beautiful you are! My only treasure… No, that’s not you. You are waiting for me at your place.

I see you in every woman – I cannot wait. I need you. I want to smell your hair. Right now, I almost hallucinate – I can hear your mild voice and I can feel you touch my shoulder gently.  I want to get dissolved in your smell. I am neither crazy nor trying to look like a perfumer. I simply do enjoy breathing in your natural scent. Imagining it now, I can smell it…

Oh dear, I am driving mad. Or probably have already driven.

Now and then I question your existence. You are too beautiful to be a real person, to be a human being. I often doubt whether I am enveloping you or I am just a loon sitting in an empty room and hugging air. It is far more believable that my frail mind created you as some kind of anodyne. A rather treacherous anodyne. You seem to be the best cure. And the one to take you is blinded, is too riveted to see the incredible number of side effects. Among which the worst one is definitely “causes addiction”. “Causes delusions” is also one of my favourites. It is quite hilarious, indeed – a delusion causes delusions. When with you, I am afraid to wink – I am too scared to open my eyes and not to see you.

The city is full of delusions.

I am half-dead. Running has never been my strong point. Panting and panting and panting. Being diseased in body and mind is not a piece of cake, I should say. In fact, I do have a heart disease I simply don’t care.

I only care about you. I am doted upon by you. If only you could feel what I feel… No, I would never want that – my affection towards you is too strong and sincere to even think of you being hurt.

I will never be able to describe my feelings in a proper way. Words distort reality.

Besides, I am anxious, I am obsessed. An obsessed freak will hardly manage to express himself with all the accuracy….

Here I am. The house you live in. My heart is no longer beating. I must be dead.  Lucky I!

Slowly do I make myself press the doorbell. I swallow. I can hear the doorbell ring. So far away. Everything is so far away when you’ve forgotten how one is supposed to breathe.

I hear your footsteps. Defibrillation. I hear you unlock the door. Pulse. I guess, it is pulse – low and weak. The doorknob starts to wind. Am I coming back to life?

You.

The city is full of you.

 

About the Author

Anastasia Polkanova is twenty. The daughter of two doctors, she was born and still lives in Ulyanovsk, Russia. At grammar school, she took part in the school theatre and published several poems in the school paper. She currently studies linguistics, as well as English and German. She is going to be a teacher of English.

South & Plunderer by Charlie Hawksfield

South

Try reading the brail of the streets with the barterers of Brixton shouting,
through the smell of Ackie and Saltfish in the markets under the filthy arches

past black faces and blue eyes, that meet and spin in perfect harmony
in oily cafes and the back alleys that simmer in half-light

through the first urban gloamings of the day, light shows
the lollipop lamps and crimson morning and the grey skin of night peeling back
and back and back to show the yawning city with its dreams and its dirt.

Hear the lost wake on Coldharbour Lane, their souls spluttering to life as they traipse down to Ruskin Park puling and moaning and brittle with hues of the blues they suck their special brew through tinny smiles till all the leaves of grass lay down.

To Camberwell, and Greek patisseries that spill urgent babbling voice and the smell of baklava into the road, it mixes with gangland lingo and ‘blud’ and the stench of weed, all awake and alive and harmonious with the constant excitement of violence

past the tortured twisted willow behind St Giles, stoical in the maelstrom

past the blocks, rectilinear catacombs in the sky, lives in limbo bathed in screen light behind St George Cross and washing and flowers.

On and on to Peckham as the day begins to bleed and the fear of the drip drip subterranean horrors into the evening and the night and light shows again

cascades of orange and sharp pricks of white and the thundering wheels of lorries with their head lamps throwing sinister silhouettes high onto brick and through glass.

Then finally to New Cross or Deptford, terror and beauty with sticky feet and barflys cutting the rancid air full of stories and smoke and abandonment, all breathing heavily into the frenzy, iridescent and fleeting as the great leviathan rolls over again to crush another morning.

Plunderer

She was all beige on a winter’s day
crumpled up like paper
a garlic bulb wrapped in gauze
muttering down Rye Lane
her thin white lips fluttering
in the stiff wind.

Stopping outside an estate agent
she drew her tartan trolley
to her side and gazed through the window
at the photos
of the houses
of the flats
of the new socially mobile
of the first time parents
of the dead middle
of the aspiring upwards.

She looked at the streamline kitchens
at the symmetrical living rooms
at the dainty little pitched roves
at the even gravel driveways
at the fresh comforts of the modern
at the gifts given to those who strive.

She stood there
barely five foot tall
plundering the dreams off potential buyers
pillaging all hope of improvement
of a new start
of the next step.

She stood there
for twenty minutes
then she shrugged her shoulders and walked away
dragging behind her the tartan trolley
full to the brim with
empty
plastic
bags.

 

About the authorCharlie

Charlie Hawksfield is a writer and artist whose poetry, fiction and non-fiction has been published in a variety of magazines including Middlebrow, Dial 174, Ariadne’s Thread, The Irish Literary Review and Masque. Charlie grew up in Sussex, but moved to Brixton when he was 20. Charlie writes a lot about the city, especially London, the speed and ferocity of a big city and especially the snatches of tenderness in the rush.