Rhyme all the ways a city battens down.
Say, river waters tide the roads to town.
Power’s stripped from mainframes, circuits, wires.
Crowds look on: a business district dies.
Blizzard. The largest snowfall in decades.
Squares are clad as monuments to trades.
Or here, high summer, sometime afternoon,
a man steps back from a black saloon
and takes in Sheffield’s stinging diesel haze
as traffic smokes and throttles, stalls, blockades.
He hoofs across four lanes of idling cars
to ditch his echo under Wicker Arch.
Skims his shadow off weed-encrusted brick
the curry houses, pubs no longer public
over the lights, where the quick or alert
might glimpse a strap, some shade beneath his shirt
though his image clears the shopfront glass
before observers get to alter the facts;
he’s made the bridge and marked the policeman
who edges round a blue abandoned van.
He slows to wrest this load from off his chest:
pics will later show a pistol’s heft
rolled a quarter-turn in gangster style
(here’s blurry footage caught on someone’s mobile).
He’s metres away, lugging freighted breath,
the palest citrus fragrance thinned with sweat;
hails the copper now as though in greeting
as if his palm might cup an ear, a cheek.
A shot to start the gawkers, one in the mouth
and through this opened face a voice pours out.
‘Blue Abandoned Van’ is the first poem in Chris Jones’s Little Piece of Harm, a 40-page pamphlet from Longbarrow Press. You can order the pamphlet securely by clicking on the relevant PayPal button below.
Little Piece of Harm: £5
More than 60 previous Featured Poems can be accessed via this index (many of these pages also contain audio recordings and short films).