John O'Donoghue

London Sundays

Across the broad slabs where

Imposing gallery

And Georgian church nestle

(Or is that jostle?) close

To traffic hell and up-

Start fleapit, McDonald’s,

And Charing Cross’s two

Versions of the railway -

One all neon steel tile,

The other vaunted arches

Where litter bins cascade

And stragglers wait mute

Before the clock’s blankfaced

Omnipotence, time past

And time present waiting

Perhaps for time future -

Across the broad slabs of

Long-gone London Sundays

My narrow friends scuttle

Down the dark smoked funnel of

St Martin’s-in-the-Fields’

Cold crypt, the London map

Of dirt and grime etched on

Faces like the pigeon

Shit that’s almost mortar

In the brickwork of this

City’s darkest buildings.

I know some face by face,

The numbered hairs of soup-

Clagged beard and what the young

Ones call that geezer’s

Bobby Charlton Parting.

Not hard to number them.

I take my place amongst

The claques, the tat that’s

Standard issue for us tits,

Us doorstep milk snatchers,

Begrimed and anoraked

All round, the tables strewn

With London Sundays, trash

Magazines and empty

Polystyrene cups, crusts,

Sometimes the personal


Of ‘our gentlemen’.


Indifferent now to

Charity: it’s our right.

Once you’ve come this far, soup’s

All that’s keeping you from

Freezing off the booze and

Pegging out. Couldn’t skipper

This weather, although God

Help us, there’s those that do.