Steel girders and an iron grey sky - a hard country,
smoke from shunting engines, smells
of gaswork sulphur, latrines and ill drained
lanes of broken houses shattered by the hun.
The grey earth holds a virulent heat,
a dry heat in a parching land.
I think of another street, stale wine
and cobblestones, melon stalls and melting ice.
Steel girders and an iron grey sky - a hard country.
The lights flicker green to fawn and fawn to red
the outcast bent on doubled sticks with stumble feet
moves his weary way to bed.
In the filth of other gutters
I have tasted wine and fruits of life,
melons to find and figs to chew
torta and pizza, pips to spew.
Here the lamplight glares without relief
upon the mildewed wall,
the marks upon the ceiling
cracked mirrors in the hall.
I on my bicycle bear my disappointment badly
for beggars here carry no romance.
Railroad fumes and smut of barren yards
rise bitter to our nostrils.
He stops a moment, breathing hard,
his clawed hand clutching tight the rail,
then, turning from the bridge, he shuffles on
dragging behind him an aching leg
and the weight of seventy years agone.