Antony Johae

Streetwise


It is starting to rain.

Umbrellas are going up, but I don’t own one.

In Oxford Street they’re going home,

but I don’t have one.

I take cover in a station entrance.

The air smells wet, car tyres hiss,

and I shiver.


I settle by the river.

It is night and I lie under the canopy.

I stare at the stars and at the moon’s fullness

and wonder if there are better places.

The pavement penetrates my bed

of newspapers and squashed boxes,

and I shiver.


There’s a girl not far off in a corner.

She talks to me and I get up.

She’s running from a father who beats her.

She’s cold and says she’s hungry.

I go to buy her a burger with my last pound.

When I get back I find her in my sleeping bag.

She takes the burger and tears at it. A wind bites,

and I shiver.


We lie in the bag together.

She sleeps – I feel her warmth

and catch the heat of her breath.

I sleep too and dream of another planet.

I wake at first light and find her gone.

There’s a note: “Thanks – see you again.”

It’s going to be a warm day.



Antony Johae © 2015