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Little London

Beat down boys hang
tracksuits from coiled frames,
biking in parks and
down scaffold-lined lanes.

Knocked-up kids grow fast:
baby on hip, schoolbag on shoulder,
as reluctant dads loiter,
keeping watch on their girl.

Puddles on the pub roof
swim with pigeons and litter,
and the roll-by buses whip up
cig butts from the drain.

Along the rows of cut out houses,
tangled swings sway lightly,
nudged by the rumbling bass
of next door’s jam.

These people mill and grate,
collect debt, kick up the dust,
hold chains in calloused hands
and accept their fate.

And in each window, single-glazed,
toddlers stack Lego bricks
in high rise flats,
spray painted in pastels.


Hide and Seek

Perched on the edge of a concrete step,
bent legs planted on the floor,
his sandalled feet, stuck with dust
and the heat, tapped a metronome.

Palms blinded his eyes,
fingers splayed across his forehead,
with small nails, uneven at the tip.
He counted back. 

He counted pebbles,
sheened by tumbling currents;
and carp, their bellied forms
sunset debris along the bank.

He numbered tiles and ran through iron bars.
He criss-crossed every road he’d ever walked;
collected petals leased from hanging baskets.

He weighed the cracks of plaster on the walls,
and shook together flaking paint with spots of damp,
to slosh across the pavement,
and make another place his home.

The digit code of fingerprints dotted his eyelids,
and the cost of love swirled in the soapsuds,
mother-hands cleaning the slate
of another day’s exploring.

He counted none and blinked away the light
crusting in the corners of his eyes,
as the dust fidgeted beneath his feet,
and he ran to find his shadow on the wall.


Emily currently works in a research lab at the University of Leeds and hopes to go to Birmingham to study Biomedical sciences.

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