52 Poems for 2013, 6/52: The Last Sober Man in Glasgow

Douglas Thompson is treating readers to 52 poems this year. He closes each one with some reflections on the work.

Here is the sixth poem in his 52-poem sequence:


through open tenement windows
interminable football commentaries
filter to the street below
I pick my way through the discarded refuse
of abandoned fairs and offensive marches
past crumbling vacant houses
and boarded up churches
everyone I meet is staggering
or on their knees
collapsing lungs liver or heart
I watch the sky go salmon pink
pubescent girls queue for empty discos
laugh at my torn clothes
whistle after me
why have I nothing to say
when I have no money?
I cross the street to avoid a screaming madman
vagrant Negro asking for a goodnight kiss
broken pitiful world decaying into litter
twisted beer cans chip-pokes shattered glass
all the little scraps of love
have melted into piss and bile
extinguished dog-ends of hopes gone up in smoke
I am torn apart like yesterday’s newspaper
surrender me to the forgiving gutter
I am an embarrassed black taxi
destined to rattle through the streets forever
when the yellow light in my eyes says for hire…


Read the author’s comments at his website.

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Filed in News, Stories on February 6, 2013