The City #2

Sometimes the dreams of these streets twist, turning the world over in their currents. Load the brush with oil and rain, bunch the bristles against the canvas of the dying light, pick the girders from the walls and speckle the florid lights of the cars onto the coal roads. Cast the wet reflections to soak in the glow of the traffic island’s soft lights, standing as still as spectres inbetween the rushing cars.

A plastic room on the city’s stale crust, the window smudged with a dark rain, six Turkish men crowd a thin formica top, deep eyes in the corner of the place. Nodding and flashing gestures from the crooks of their repose, their angular syllables glitch like tiny birds hanging in the air above the table. Before them like broken antiques miniature cups of thinning espresso cool, the insoluble sugar a beach in the bottom of each, a sluggish grit-water tied to the moon of the men’s pale palms. And beneath the fluorescing strip of a plastic light, two Slavic men sit in bright trainers and cheap body-warmers, grimacing whilst they laugh. I catch myself falling between these worlds, a sliver of paper ripped from the back of an old phonebook, my thoughts are names crossed from the list of the torn page, and I hang falling in the abyss of dark alleys without a home. The door swings heavy in the room and I subdue the fantasy’s panic, tugging matrices of myth into interlocking compositions around myself, caging myself in the stare of a crazy man, radiating starless skies and the glow of a thousand orange streetlights that lead dead men into the warrens – incanting my defence. And in this madness I’ve mastered many other things, and so call the crows from the roofs of the crumbling tower-blocks, watching their specks grow in the distance as they swift the skyline in the dusk, leaving behind perches of bird-shit and stone, jagged antenna-ridden eyries, following the humming wires of my cable-thoughts into collision and furious flight.

The city is a puddle skiened with rainbow oil that will transform a thought. Each place may shift and cascade, ancient station-hall’s clattering boards, flickering to reveal a new destination. The rotation of a cab-office sign in the autumn, pink letters on black, turning in the wind, a message that blinks hidden words as it spins. The code of colours in this space has shifted, flashcard quick, turning patrons over like a game as the night and the storm thicken. The Turkish men drain the dregs of their cold coffee. So catching myself from a dream, I stow the rising fear, keep the ravens at bay and instead, rocket my imagination into the altitudes above the soaking tail-lights of a shrinking city, gaining density and fury as I rise, cloaked by an ancient feeling of solitude and connection, flanked by the ragged wings of many birds who burst and stutter in the failing light, rising before the iris of a dying moon, flashing black eyes and calling to each other in their murderous ranks. And when I fall again, back down through the many layers and into this place, it has changed again. Another night, another room, into the rush of a thousand cars and a thousand lights.