“…what a height my spirit is contending!/’Tis not content so soon to be alone.”

That belltower of ours was hurling out its eighth chime when we crept shoeless into the morning. Last night’s storm pulsed weary in the sky; 

and the silence was spotless –

so we ruined it.

Ghosts walk this violet-steeped street, circle this tower, shadows

of a past I can’t bring myself to see. It won’t be long, of course, before those flanking leaves are curling and dark, these stones

shimmered and crisp with frost,

and this morning

another memory. 

A glistening trace of fever still clung to the sky. That too I’m sure is gone, burned away by the April sun; and yet it was so quiet

I had to wonder

if we’d not mistakenly walked in on a dream. As though it were the easiest thing to lie on this pavement and fade into rich



I was so tired

Then again, hangovers don’t generally split one’s head in dreams; nor do bruises generally ache between one’s –

Nonetheless, we were less

solid as we came to the turning.

Somehow the prospect of home, its insufferable rush of humanity, was far too tangible for the present hour, however quiet the streets would likely be. Before long, I would drag my thoughts back to train tickets and laundry and coffee-pots

such stuff as small talk’s made on,

and you’d don again your eye-rolls and filial laments; but for the moment the mundanity of it all appeared

as good as death, and so for now,

the path erased itself as we walked. With care I fade into this chaos, 

breathing these rustling branches, this opalite sky, these last tripping bars of this town

our town

so soon torn away – 

How beautiful emptiness was, and how delicate. Oh God –

if only we remained to wander among the stubborn shop fronts, perhaps it would never quite shatter; 

perhaps we could loiter in this great weighted after, 

linger, our fingers hooked into the place which was not quite Saturday morning

this glassy after. But of course, already it was cracking, 

for voices were whispering, scrabbling south to us, slippery, subtle, stubbornly screaming –

there is no us without this city. Oxford is ours

and remains in our debt

it clenches its marble claws round our necks –

and the blood they draw is sweet. Here we learned to love our home; here we forgot

our native shitholes (sometimes)

but still I grew to loathe that city

bereft of a town, I long

for streets you don’t know. Here I watched indifferently as the spirit starved within me, and grew emaciated

with living too much. 

A great fiery gust of wind whipped through the trees and came scraping

and surging

and stirring my heart, and here still it rots away that feeble lock on a dangerous thing…

the wind perished, the soft scent with it – but still I hope, what a fucking mistake –

So do I embrace bitterness, 


the elderly waltz of the clouds? Exhaustion and wine are infinite allies

if one fears seeing clearly

fears waking, merely remembering

because then –

oh I curse my two-tone heartbeat.

A phantom hand in the crook of my waist, and perhaps speakerless murmurs scatter the still morning air. Hope taints like a miserable stain.

I weep for the past,

and the gaping maw of the future; for the trap I escaped and the one I have bought; above all

for the child I am not, 

and for you. 

And like static lurking behind the music on a broken 



the echoed song of my heart


won’t stop.

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