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And the Sparrows Coughed

by John Stocks

Strangely I miss the stink of cities
With tang of air as sharp as Sheffield steel,
The fattened, churning, filthy clouds
And grey acid rains tasting of lead,
Even stacks of chimneys spewing smoke in plumes
Or billowing their vile and sulphurous fumes.

Perversely now I miss the rattle
And the roaring, booming, rage of cities,
The insidious clink of coal wagons,
The gobbling, frenzied ire of the furnace
And the sonorous booms from underground;
The mechanistic timbre of the sound.

There was a strange chemical poetry
At twilight over stark-edged steelworks,
The voluptuous swaths of sultry light
Ochre-tainted, shimmered by ozone
Above the slink-back of sullen shop girls
To suburban, prefabricated homes.

Of course I do not miss
The loss of breath,
Corroded lungs,
And early death.

It is a sensual bloodbath I propose:
A wizened, stunted, coal-choked,
Urban rose.

Copyright © 2008 by John Stocks

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