Inside the sweet and charmless one, the filthy one,
the room with flies or night wasps singing far too high.
Shutterless and bleached and all-too-ready-rooms,
the gassy room, fitted out with pique and sorrow,
the one cascading with cries and fags and sweet wine –
or sheltering nothing but canker and steel dusk.
The small one, adhered to in that long interior absence.
The large one, teak-filled, leaking news of Edwardian deaths.
The creaking one where someone close, closer
and terrible, is taking steps, when the steps reached you.
The one that burning afternoon, filled with dust
lit-up below a silent ceiling fan where laughter
reached in and up before the midday call to prayer.
The one you absconded from by the green night shop,
seeing triple on a bad trip, your nose ceaselessly bleeding.
The one you cannot see, being born amid the tall sparks.
The one you come to see unhoused, with thin stars
or evening traffic, filled with faces you almost knew:
a final bed, the last of hope, but everything inclement
withering fast on a lane of mad white flowers.
Chris Emery is a director of Salt. He has published three collections of poetry: Dr. Mephisto, Radio Nostalgia and The Departure, as well as a writer’s guide, an anthology of art and poems, and edited selections of Emily Brontë, Keats and Rossetti. His work has been widely published in magazines and anthologised, most recently in Identity Parade: New British and Irish Poets (Bloodaxe). He is a contributor to The Cambridge Companion to Creative Writing, edited by David Morley and Philip Neilsen. He lives in Cromer, North Norfolk, with his wife and children.