That dream again, the one I have
Most mornings now: a foghorn calls
Across the river’s mouth, I scan
The grey salt distance, pick out groups
Of oystercatchers, dunlins, knots
And, here and there, an avocet,
Then turn and take the path inland.

It leads through straitened countryside
And on into a straitened town
Whose name I never figure out.
My eye is drawn to certain things:
Three crippled aerials, a wheel
Abandoned to its stillness, clumps
Of gleaming roaches, large and small.

And, to the left, I see a sign
That dwarfs the church it stands outside:
The dead cannot insult the dead.
A jogger with a haversack
Collides with me, then stops to walk.
His hair cinereous, he drops
Two gobs of spittle at my feet.

His doppelgänger in a suit
Approaches from across the street
And says ‘the dead insult the dead.’
He says it with sincerity
But darkness leaks from his valise.
I feel the world seep through itself.
That’s when I know I have to leave.

And this is where things peter out –
I’m walking through the hills, the path
Climbs steeply, curves and falls away.
Or else I’m sitting on a train
And watching emptied cities pass.
But always I’m a finger’s width
From nowhere…or from everywhere.


Ian Heffernan was born just outside London, where he still lives. He studied at UCL and SOAS and works with the homeless. His poetry has been published recently in the High Window, the Raintown Review, Morphrog, London Grip, Acumen, Ink Sweat & Tears, South Bank Poetry and elsewhere.