Virginia Barton


Oxford, 2002

Cornmarket_St,_Oxford (1024x760)


“What did you do today girlie?”


I prayed not to die on the street of tat. Not to fall
on the gum-puddled polka dot pavement, lever’d & cracked.

I can’t choose, but let it not be in the henna-stained lap
of the tattoo artist. With lip studs. Or slide down the
2-4-1 hand-cart, wheeled by Cuban midgets
with patter to match: ”ten pound, chatty mobil, two for one”.

(What’s this? Little coats for ‘phones? “Pretty pretty pinky!”)

(Puce, purple, rosy mauve. Text in style.)


Here the nightmare ugly man sells whirligig choppers
and  the world’s smallest kites !


So I stumbled through last night’s litter, shoes sticky with spilt fizz.
Then what did I do?
I stood & wept at the Chinese harpist, remote & lovely,
plucking a song of mountain and valley from far Cathay;
a land of floating mist & blessed silence, where diminutive figures
in silk lean on bridges over torrents, frozen on tea-cups, celadon, jade,
hinted by brush-stroke, whispering age…
Hush! I can hear the water, lick the spray on my cheek,
feel the breeze in the willow…


Klik! Tote! Gap! Next!

HMV, JJB, KFC, HSBC. Phones R U.

Wake up! Wake up! If you’re not buying, shove off.

The barking rap of money talking.

(“If I were you lady, I’d go another way next time.” Gently.)


That’s what I did today.


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