Alistair Noon

from “station / street”

5.  Tobacco Industry

A rustle in the bushes
as a patrol van passes:

a Vietnamese woman
hurries through a mass burial

of untaxed imports,
her expiry-dated permit.

8.

Baseball-capped, spotty and hooded-topped,
you, with your Pitbull vanguard and Alsatian at the rear,
walk where Stalin’s artillery growled, and fear

sank its teeth into the legs of the shelled,
refugees in their own cellars,
and for seven days all exercise stopped.

9.

Down where they founded the city
in the years of chivalry and pillage,
the weapon popes banned as the Devil’s –
for its seventy-kilo recoil –
competes with the air pistol and rifle
in a local Moloch’s shop window:
quality has always sold.

11. On an East Berlin Street

Where the Roads Department pulled down signs
to put up the new, you pad your way, not
quite steadily, thin-jacketed in Spring.

Cousins once removed ask what fibres you wove,
knots you tied and threads you broke,
want a list of all your complicities.

The specialists who looked in on you as you lay
in a waking coma – so they diagnosed –
want to know what you were thinking

but can’t quite believe you remember anything.

12. Two Tenements

On one, disrepair has skimmed first letters
off “ream”, “utter” and “ilk”.
The spatter of grenades
sticks to the grey cornerstones.

The second, peach-tinged, frames a glass door.
Fixed above is a bright-lit sign –
seaweed which predicts a shore:
“Events”, “Consultancy”, “Design”.

13. The Operation

Where the anaesthetized face once stared back,
rented mesh keeps strollers
out of the next block: from the top floor,
chipped furniture dribbles down the chute
into the skip to be driven off
with the drilled and extracted kitchen walls
whose contracts the new owners won’t extend.

Alistair Noon © 2007