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Smooth Fields 6AM

By the time civil dawn cracks open
the cold egg-sack of London’s albumin skyline,
the blood-boltered bummarees of Smithfield
have already been hard at it for a couple of hours.
Their forensic white smocks and barrowboy charm
handed down through the generations;
father to son to grandson to great-grandson.
Jainists of the world take note; livestock has been
traded at this carnivore’s Mecca for over 800 years.
The soil here is used to the taste of offal and warm viscera.
Before Tyburn’s Triple Tree became the city’s main location
for public executions, the crown’s ceremonial killing was done right here.
Devilled kidneys of William Wallace. Sweetbreads of Wat Tyler.
Umble pie of Lollard martyrs and chitterlings of Protestant poets.
Godforsaken heretics and unholy dissidents all.
Smithfield’s temperature-controlled freezing works
sit proudly atop a labyrinth of ancient tunnels.
Tunnels which lead all the way to the hollow centre of The Earth.
Down past the churning waters of the buried Fleet river,
through the hot magma and the thick mantle
to a place where a long forgotten tribe
of homo habilis wage a daily fight for supremacy
with mighty mastodons and sabre-toothed cats.
Living life just as they did at the beginning of the Pleistocene epoch.
Unchanged in approximately 2.2 million years.
The daylight breaks apart the clouds above,
burning away any lingering rheum and gound.
London awakens slowly from the blindside
and prepares to shred new hearts
and grind more bones to dust.



The House That Dennis Severs Built

Illuminated by fading candlelight,
I stand in silence on the first floor
of a terraced Georgian house on Folgate Street.
The smell of rose-hip and pomanders permeates.
There are discarded playing cards and empty oyster shells.
There is broken bone china and an unmade four-poster bed.
Huguenot silk-weavers huddle in the basement below.
A 21-gun salute sounds in the dilapidated tenement above.
The bells of St. Mary Spital prepare to chime out the hour.
I stand here, gazing into a cracked vanity mirror
hung against a painted wall. And the face
that I can see gazing silently back at me,
illuminated by the fading candlelight,
looks as if it’s being reflected in a cloud of smoke.
Or should that be smog?
Faded at the corners and daguerreotype hazy.
And the longer I stand here, silently gazing
at this turbid looking-glass visage of myself,
the more I appear to be steadily ageing.
Like Rod Taylor trapped in a George Pál stop-frame animation.
Crow’s feet deepening at the edges of my eyes.
Capillaries cracking beneath the skin on my cheeks.
Flecks of white sprouting all about the beard-line.
Outbreak of liver spots and the onset of Type Two diabetes.
Impotence, dementia and onrushing rigor mortis.
The blowflies arriving to lay their eggs.
My body fat slowly turning to soap.
Meanwhile, away from the gas-lamps and the ticking
of the grandfather clock, away on the other side of town,
a young man lies bare-chested on the pavement near Oxford Street
- sucking early evening air through an open chest wound.
Her Majesty’s police are unrolling their plastic caution tape.
It takes a moment for the eyes to adjust back
to the third generation technology and the closed-circuit TV’s.
At the end of the day, you either see it or you choose not to.
Aut Visum Aut Sumo Non.

18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields

185-187 Oxford Street, Westminster



Piccadilly Pea-Souper

We have gathered here as a body.
We have created here a space.
Our common commitment to a drawling deadpan baritone.
Mr. Bill Callahan has blown into town on a downslope wind.
His shirts are newly pressed. His suit is freshly dry-cleaned.
Tonight we are but simple God-fearing folk,
struck dumb by a collective outbreak
of acute purulent bronchitus.
Bill’s face a jumble of ticks and gurns and poker tells.
Bill’s limbs prone to myoclonic twitches and dyspraxic dance moves.
Above his silver crown, a wooden pelican pecks at its breast.
Above the pelican, The Son Of God suffers for our sins upon the cross.
Above the crucifixion, The Messiah resides
in his Father’s House - his wounded hands open wide.
Above the east window rests the copper roof.
And above that the firmament; a gateway
to a universe bigger and more beautiful
than you or I could ever possibly imagine.

Promo video for 'I Feel Like The Mother Of The World'



A City Inside Of Me

Before me, I see a blank place and a blank time.
And it's my blank place. And it's my blank time.
And also. And this is the thing. It’s your blank place too.
And it’s your blank time also. Do you see?
I see a man and a woman. And they're both heading towards 40.
For the sake of argument, let’s call them Christopher and Clair.
For the sake of argument, let’s call them Benedict and Hattie.
There’s no visible fire. And neither of them are sitting.
For the sake of another argument, why don’t we just
call them "me"? And why don’t we just call them "you"?
Christopher and Clair. Benedict and Hattie. Me and You.
All of us heading towards age 40. In a blank place.
At a blank time. In a blank city just like this one.
I see a blank diary in a plain paper bag.
I see a bloodstain in a plain coat pocket.
And I see a neighbour. And a little girl.
And the neighbour and the little girl I see
are dressed identically. Dressed like nurses.
One grown-up nurse. And one pre-pubescant nurse.
Emotion is detached. Dialogue is astringent.
Cryptic unease abounds. It’s all in the nuance.
In a blank time, in a blank place, blackbirds build their nests.
In a blank time, in a blank place, forget-me-nots are in bloom.
It’s okay though. It’s not real. None of this is real.
What I mean is this; they’re just actors. Really. It’ll all be okay.
And the blank place is probably just Richmond Upon Thames.
And the blank time could easily be today, or yesterday or tomorrow.
Neurobabble. Slight pause. White noise.
Franz Schubert's 'Six Moments Musicaux'.
Number 3. In F minor. Do you see?

'The City' by Martin Crimp

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