Simon Maddrell

Bob Dylan turns up at Spoken Word London, VFD, Dalston at 7.57pm on 7th May 1969

Hippy jeans on skinny legs
crabbed out of bed at seven pm
just for another cup of coffee.

The cellar club having a night off
walls the colour of sex
cock-filled toilet doors.

Snaking his waist inside, I imagine
there’s a fag on the pavement.
Put me on first, he must have said.

Ignoring his own ignorance 
of rules & giving his own fucks
he guards a guitar like a shotgun.

Duncan in his cowboy hat & boots
feels under-dressed
in black nail varnish.

Hannah warns the photographer
to wait, wait. 
She turns off the clock. 

He sings
Tonight, I’ll be staying here with you
and then walks out.

Fourteen Minutes

Circular saws mark my route, roofers next door 
hammering & tongues like long-lost friends scaffolding 
them in empty windows & doorways when months before 
they filled with cheering horns, families lined up on 
balconies just as I imagine a photo on their kitchen wall 
I catch a wind-swept leaf, I think about staying for thirteen 
minutes to catch a bag or wait ‘til winter to fill sacks         
on the road buses gush, cars harrumph as delivery scooters 
sew, the seagulls circle 
when I stop by the post, an NHS Priority Box, their gift 
claps as it drops  
down the hill the Grade I church is no longer a life               
of worship but they stage rehearsals
on the promenade, the Angel of Peace homage to nurses    
in a way statues should be in a past forgotten
wind turbines swirl through mist and I wait a minute 
squinting at the West Pier’s skeleton that seems to spell 
NHS, they keep saying it will be repaired one day 
the autumn spring tide washed swathes of pebbles over the 
railings, I pick one up and know my place 
at a defunct water fountain from an age it was free,           
the place I normally circle the square with its hedges & 
shrubs, nature’s prism, a hundred greens, one red, one 
when it’s dry, instead I walk shoe-less, grass-toed             
past the chattering sparrows in a restaurant of trees           
but it is seagulls walking this time looking for lunches, 
packed, alive or both
unlike Lee Harwood’s dead bench suitably wrought with 
iron slats and plenty of gaps or space in-between where     
I find a broken key

in BRØD+WOLF I buy a pair of vegan coconut & lemon 
slices that save the planet two-by-two but not my waist 
and there’s nothing eco-centric about the main street when    
my health and wellbeing centre is shut, I feel my breath     
as if I had a mask on but my glasses fog with rain rather
than steam up
the dentist is open to national health patients, a relief          
to my broken front tooth that chews on stuff too much,       
a buddleia has lost its smell and I wonder how big                   
it will grow and whether the family knows
the roofers who reminisce about videos, how one has a 
free feature film now the shop has shut and how the clunk, 
clank of ladders marked the end.

I don’t know how to let go 
Twenty years cooking a hotpot 
grow your own onions, potatoes
father told me in Brentford 
they made those nylon bed sheets 
but not now it’s Brompton Bikes
making it easier to get where and 
what you want, no-one knows 
you until we remember

     that moving is no escape 
unless it involves all the roots 
getting our nails filled with
its soil. I scraped most of it out
though an orphan still remains
in Bermondsey, but not really
it’s Bermondsey Street you see 

     the argument is not what 
the argument is about  my mother 
told me this over & 
again in a different way  
I was drawn to Stepney
for four weeks in a bedsit nearby  
where she was born, the hospital
rebuilding itself with an old facade 

     as if longing for her backwards 
nine months in Hackney 
where I also curled in a womb 
as though squatting 
in Broadway Market 
rent pouring from my pants 
like I am the gentry pissing 
my soul over the homeless 

     people battle every day  
with their lives, me with my own
change put in their hand 
never in cups, speaking 
their names out loud 
just made it worse, for me

'I don’t know how to let go' continued page 1 of 2
'I don’t know how to let go' continued, new stanza, page 2 of 2

     in Shoreditch Triangle 
it’s easy to be lost 
like having no home  
to go back to mother’s story
it’s easy to escape 
in Brick Lane nostalgia 
like knowing
there’s no going back  father 
said but in a different way 
in my arms just before the end.
Memories of holding on
the need to let things go 

     to Brighton, naturally
I tried Kemptown, obviously 
they both loved wordplay 
my parents, evidently  
Hove, actually 
is how I reach the sea.

after Will Harris

Flights, Issue Seven, December 2022