THE IKEA CAFÉ, SHANGHAI
Winter scene: brightly floodlit building site
a socket between long, strong verticals –
all the new high-rises barricading out light,
a brick-built apartment block, red banners
billowing down it – zhong guo, something ren, xiao,
toy-townish forecourt, little privets in pots
as night falls; as oblong windows pop awake,
constellate; as the white lights of trucks whip along the
speedway-on-stilts that spans the horizon where steel
is strung taut between pylons way up from the streets’
crazy looping messes of wires – un-disentangleable
black lacework crudded with demolition dust
till deep darkness falls at last over the land
and the geometry of tower blocks fades,
turns toy-sized, twinkly, and here I am.
Perhaps this whole thing’s been a stupid plan,
this workaday Tuesday sipping coffee, tapping along
to a pop song, church bells and robins a world away
this Christmas Day in Ikea, Pudong,
tissue stars twirling over the tills.
PEN POISED FOR THE DAY’S FIRST BLACK LOOP
The bedroom of the lighthouse
full of double bed and dull north light.
A wooden-shuttered window. Desk.
Desk lamp. Bulk of clothing
as big as a big man hung on
the door hooks – no place else for clothes.
The bed is all. Desk small and wedged
right up to this curved window,
daylight bathing the room in dullness.
Pen still poised for the day’s first black loop
I look out at sea, at the slow strobe of light
in the dull light, how it strokes the grey
with a beam of white. Grey filling my page.
A coffee ring has rusted it. Beyond is world;
in here just morning, looming, and beyond
the radio noise, the huge sea shushing.
Then, out of the white, the shush,
the grey, the sea, the light, leaps
a black loop. I pen First porpoise of the day.
YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE
After Peter Porter’s nuclear attack poem, 1983
meet on the canal path
no cause for alarm
(instructs the town mayor
a short man
from the top step
of the cenotaph
through the megaphone)
a mutation has hit Bradford
the order is head south-east fast
walk in convoy
there’ll be boats to Ostend
pack other food that will last
one toy per child
no wheeled luggage
these rules must be stuck to
check twitter for updates
and strong boots
snow is predicted
this convoy is restricted to