Silent City


Work in progress

This poem is based on a short film by Keith Allott which records scenes in Leicester between around 10pm at night until around 7am the following morning during one day in January 2012.
The poem is an experiment in ekphrasis where the poem is written in response to the visual. It is though, at several removes from the original film as I have made a further ekphrastic focus images from the film and my memory of how the images relate to the whole. The poem is a visual/ verbal enactment of the process. I am keen to draw attention to the act of filming while at the same time presenting suggestive vignettes which may or may not have been present, or, indeed, intended, in the original. My poem cannot embody an experience/ stimulus which was initially visual and aural, i.e. not only in Keith’s film but in Dave’s Donau’s evocative soundtrack. This dimension needs to be taken account for appreciation of the poem and its making.

I invite and welcome comments in particular in response to the following :

* How far does the poem ‘work’ in the light of what I have said above?

* Imagine, if you can, the words without images? What predominates as a visual/ verbal experience in the writing?

* how, if at all, do words and images complement and /or contradict each other a) successfully b) not so successfully?

Thank you. Special thanks to Keith. It is still very much a work in progress

PS I have done this on an I-Pad using a WordPress App hence the general wobbliness and multiple-coloured fonts. All good learning curve:)

Silent City

We’re living in the future none of this has happened yet</em
Bruce Springsteen

1. Closing

You can compose the music of mood
from the credits backward
when either winter 6am
or midnight might be settling to wake
or sleep in puddles

where nothing is silent

tinnitus crossing hisses stop and go on Charles Street
without visual prompt of green man
who has hooked up with his buddies
scary red dude stands
as long as we do

on sweat drip kerbs
touting glamorous grime
for trainers, bare toes, stick heels

sicked-up substances from Subway


2. Touchscreen Alley

Play the game of where the filmmaker stood
made this gully of shadows
this canny slant orange lit set
its gilt frame windows
its begged question
who is out there, down
in this city street, that one,
Cultural Quarter?
Leicester or somewhere Italian
its art tipping out
towards people unfolding hands wet
cut clean felt-tipped
sex-smeared manicured.
Who let it slip in its jigsawed
passing pieces which camera
transmutes to burning paper
or burning users of public services
which from that angle the filmmaker misses


3. Full

The sign in lights that’s propped in air
is lie on glass that catches two sides
of a concrete frame whose blue is at once
there then gone like cars stashed
for the workday the shopping the evening
glass that’s half full not even half

empty either a place too tight
for reversing for a ticket we drop
so the machine at the foot of the stairwell
wont allow us to leave


4. Headlights home

We flag down the headlights home
pissed out of our heads
bare arms, bare legs,
black and white at 6.30 am
at 10 pm in colour on buses

We track down headlights alone
in twos in groups

crouch down behind twigs
like the hunted or hurt
in a film from the fifties

We crack open the night head
alone where twin lights barge rain
sheets dragging bought freight
out of sight of the meter


5. Street level.

After the bars and clubs shut
fast food aquaria
lasagne, float on glass.

Shoaling inside
hungry clubbers.

The queue ends outside.

The girl in the blue and white dress’s
day spills over
like her hair, a blonde shawl,
her ex said don’t cut
she drifts
from pavement to counter
from counter to last bus
her day overfull
flood flash flame

in the next shot
balled lightning
last in the queue
film trick
showers and scorches
the girl
her mates
lads near macdonalds

who are flagging down women

In another city
a street like this

no filming

her ex
compliments the colour
of his girlfriend’s hair


6. Ground level

capsized traffic cone
deserted urban lanes
metal arches
lampposts instead of trees
male mock fights
in focus not turn circled


young men
stride ahead of their shadows


7. To/From

dreadlocks hood

clouded water street
phone box artefact.

What angle ?
He walks past dark haired
woman in short white jacket and skirt

knee socks


Shut shops folding
Clarks sleeping shoes


8. Outside Greggs.

A pile, blue and white.

Two stubbled guys in woolly hats
pull palletts out at 5am.
Stacked pile totters

he wants to blame

‘Greggs’ caught
sidelong glamour
name in lights
door parts for sandwiches baguettes pasties


not long in from the night before
he lets his armload totter


9. Intro

The traffic streams diamond selves
intransigent opal
two cars break away
from midnight’s molecular mass
meshed mosaic from here you have vantage
unawareness of people sleeping on upper floors
of roadside houses

And roof from where
you filmmaker wait
for best set of coalescing lights


10. Modes

the way to embrace
in front of meter
where one way sign
points at the sky
to be androgynous
is next to cars passing
brake lights



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