For the man wearing a denim hat, to the rockers in the glass-fronted shops, to the birds on the shallow water: a mile in five parts.



Monte Carlo,

New York, New York

Built in 1854,

this spire with crows,

tight jeans and

rusted coasters.


Smells of eggs,


salty chips.

Single boat stranded,

afloat on the sand,

grand blue boat, tilted.


Reflection of council flats

in wet holes.

Thick haze, thinner there,

water and sky, immersed

in each other’s



Throw a penny,

make a wish, to

last a thousand years.

Give way to


lifeboat vehicle.




Obviously she’s pregnant,

and she’s got two young boys.


Isle of Grain, smokestacks,

King’s North

power station.


There are other ways to do it

other than self sacrifice.



Scrawled on a blue bench,

since the Romans,

we’ve liked to scrawl

on blue benches,

garden walls.

Each other.


Rush of cold air, slick ripples

of encroaching sea.




Big bird chases the little bird,

tiresome taunting of tiny wings,

worm hanging from it’s beak,

they dip, the birds, perpendicular

to the horizon and



Finally the gull desists and surrenders to the wind,

sits calmly in the shallow puddle, and waits.





Sir John Betjeman trundles past,

the pier is Southend,

Southend is the pier.

Over lichen-green boards,

black tubing stained with white



Orange haze, hulking arms and the

black husks of


on the horizon

smoke merges

with cloud.


Stories of the birds,

the crow and the sea-bird,

the crow waits for his

long-beaked rival.

Peeks in holes,

follows, bobbing.


Deck boards may be slippery.




Access forbidden to all unauthorised persons,

etched, underneath, several minutes of work,



People gathered at the pier point,

the pier’s point,

an angular glass building,

abstract and jutting into the sky,

with the usual metal tables,

gaggles of people holding hot drinks

with cold hands.


Sit down, all aboard, you’ve spent your money,

given some pennies to the lifeboat,

insulted the staff,

grinned at the setting reflection of the sun,

now go home,

take your ugly children and go home.

Your duties are done.






Blinking amusements, steady income,

five pounds a day, per machine,

every day since 1985.

Books for 75p,

coin fingers,

the smells of the past,

scraps of Victoria,

gentility, slammed

against eighties



Glowing signs.

Bowling alleys.

Time to go home.

11 thoughts on “For the man wearing a denim hat, to the rockers in the glass-fronted shops, to the birds on the shallow water: a mile in five parts.

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