after Jamie McKendrick
Bradford the milly, the chilly, the everywhere hilly,
the Yorkshire, the canny, the Rajasthani,
The Polish, the Irish, the Romany,
the homeless, the homesick, the Manningham native,
the dislocated and the keypad-gated.
Bradford the hyped, the skyped, the lifetime saved-for,
the quixotic, the Quaker, the fortune-maker.
The fresh start, the loan shark, the business start-up,
the kohl-eyed, the streetwise, the Bollywood star-struck.
Bradford the Dissenter, the Luddite, the Chartist,
the in-your-face playwright, the bigger-splash artist.
The faith-schooled, grammar-schooled, scholarship-winning
part-time Philistine can’t be arsed innit.
Bradford the once proud, wool-endowed, bloodied
but unbowed, Gothic, Italianate, Art-Deco run down.
The grandiose scrubbed-up municipal pompous.
The mansion, the prefab, the tentacled campus.
The bought-to-let, muddy-becked, moor-bound
and moribund. The vigilant vengeful, the honour-enslaved.
The Red Bull can on an Undercliffe grave.
The nest-studded trees in the central reservation,
finch robin blackbird singing. Bradford the brave.
Sensing a chill in the air, I brought the universe indoors
with the tomatoes. It had been out there so long, I felt
it was too old for nights out and needed me.
The moon came first and went straight to the cat basket
where, unlike the cat, it seemed happy. Grateful, even.
Sirius made for the sofa while I faffed with the planets,
lining them up in size order on golf tees mounted in blu-tak
on the windowsill, curtains open so they could see the sky.
Don’t move, or I’ll swing for you.
Orion, Hercules and those pricks I put under the stairs,
then looked again – a matchbox, surely, would do.
I scooped all the angels off their spheres
and gave the whole gaggle a pinhead.
The Perseids trapped under a cup with a postcard,
I told them to calm down and ran them a bath.
Andromeda I shoved in the washing machine,
tried the Sombrero Galaxy on for size
then frisbeed it onto the wardrobe.
Word got out and red dwarfs were queuing past the shed,
curious, about what they’d looked down on for so long.
There were stars up the stairs and dark matter everywhere.
Seen from the moon, the earth is jewel-bright:
a swirl of blues and yellows, greens and whites.
Surveying space in search of life, you’d know
immediately – it looks alive. You’d slow
your engines to a whisper and just stare.
Whole oceans shine: they really are azure;
the forests emerald; the deserts gold.
Even the clouds cling like wisps of packaging
around some infinitely precious thing
plucked from a ruin and unwrapped intact.
By contrast our old friend the moon looks whacked –
like some pasty impresario, glimpsed
through a midnight window, pulling strings
to keep the whole goddam show on the road.
I shall do such things… what they are yet I know not
– King Lear
Go on then – don’t make eye contact
just walk all over me, I know my place
among the lowest of the low, pushed into doorways
under everything and everyone;
you’d put me right out if you could, except – I have my uses.
Wipe yourself off on me then call me dirty? We shall see.
It’s murder here: the wind whistles viciously under the draught excluder
and I bear the brunt of every booted stranger like a scar.
Smutty bastards, lady mucks! I harbour grime:
caked and hardened to a crust its dust becomes me
and my filthy mind. Biding my time, dreaming low-down dreams
of multicoloured silken-tufted flying carpets
morning and evening, from your going out until your coming in
night after night, year after year
I lie here, bristling.