London, December

I only love London in winter



Daybright city darts in

for an evening paper,

comes out dark-savvy, neon-wise…


trace the city

in your tilting eye, river

cocking its snook through the post-codes,


idling past fiscal towers,

great  see-thru  slabs  of executive toffee,

shrugging off this faff of a city without a second glance


as one rose-red bus

half as old as time

wheedles its way down Threadneedle Street


and bridges lie low for fear of burning

and a million mobiles raise

their home-bound voices


and forests of Xmas trees,

chopped off at the root, encircle London,

closing in…


Once I knew a man

who wished his house

had two magical doors,


one leading to London,

one to Cornwall –

‘think of the travelling time we’d save…’


But London, my love,

has so many doors

all hitting the nail on the head,


London in its mysterious cloak of dark

not much darker than the light,

city where a painter


can only work on his ‘Crucifixion’ canvas

when he’s blind-drunk,

yes, that’ll be London, I think



Penelope Shuttle‘s most recent publication is Unsent: New and Selected Poems 1980 – 2012, from Bloodaxe Books.  She will be giving readings from Unsent next year at Bristol Poetry Festival, the Charles Causeley Festival and other venues.  She lives in Cornwall.