To London

It was necessary to move, and at this exit

the beggar, cross-legged at the fork of the tunnel,

calls out Love! A welcome, of sorts.

                The night light fucks the suburb

into nightmare familiarity —

not like a shrammed nerd touting

guided walks and histories that contract

imagination for demolition work,

leveling today’s housing,

restoring common greens,

lingering at sites orphaned of their fever

hospitals — by no means that hyperliterate,

poor entrepreneur —

It is the view, the barbed wire roaring into view

round and round the playground walltop.

It is the warehouse, warehouse windows blank of occupation.

It is lives, lives supplied in great number,

fulfillment of numbers.

It is the sense of something shared —

the tailor scissors razoring open

fishmouth stitches, the sewn-up pocket

of the new suit,

and finding something —

But it is new, all new,

even the gangs who graffiti chimneys

scrubbed and lovely, deleted

like the railways delete


the head, the occasionally payrolled head,

the feet

of the quartered commuters, of the vertebral week.

Vahni Capildeo (Scotland, 1973 -)

Source: Measures of Expatriation (Carcanet Press, Ltd., 2016) from Poetry Foundation

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