What This City Coughs

This city sings a cacophony of chaotic harmonies

Drenched in the sludge of silent hysteria

As another day begins

And rush hour reveals a stinking posterior


The city is washed in grey rain

And we all trudge in our little riverways

The tired faces navigate the gridlocked landscape

The daily commute regurgitates the same ensemble

Who long for escape

If the city had walls they would read

Here lies civilisation


The school kids who’ve had no breakfast

Steal sweets for the morning to come

The youth who don’t go to school

Hooded and half lean

Think the streets hold more promise

That bag of green

More important than a GCSE


The lonely widower gets jostled as he queues for the bus

Underneath the surface his heart is ready to erupt

But he looks to the sky and knows his wife is there

Smiling down at him as he stacks shelves at the supermarket

Work he must

Because his pension isn’t enough and there’s stain upon stain

On his lonely living room carpet

The heartbreak, he can’t adjust


The mute street cleaner listens to a podcast about microbiology

As the rain falls about his ears

How many years has he swept the same pavements

Immersing himself in knowledge

On the same level as a doctorate

Destined to live a life where he can’t use his gift

But he still smiles at the passers by

Because in his intelligence he found solitude and reasons why

He could live


If you’ve ever walked these streets

It is almost a given

That you are in rhythm

With these people

I have just described

They are not in disguise

They are in plain sight

Sitting opposite you on the bus

Sweeping up the cigarette butt you just dropped

People are not puddles

They are oceans

Too rough for you to navigate

Without listening.


© Jack Nugent





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