London Stone

They were young, war was new, it was nylons
And lippie and drinks on the house
In the Strand, in a place called the Coal Hole.

They drank Gin and It till they spun
And the warrior, scrubbing her kiss
With his wet red knuckles, ran

Over the cobbles to Charing Cross Station
Where soldiers were roaring like coal
Down the dirty old throat of the coal-hole,

And the warrior’s woman decanted
Her drink in the palm-pot, and swayed
Through the dawn with the glow of a bride

Already, to win the new war,
A stone’s throw away, where the poor were,
Where it licked up the high streets, still hungry.

London, you can’t have forgotten.
Haven’t your books got no pages –
Or did you just rip out the pages

About what the bombs do in bomb-holes,
The cute little fox in his fox-hole,
And the hero who hoots from the hell-hole?

The bar-tender’s sixty years late, wasn’t born,
Though he knows the word Blitz – it’s a cocktail,
And everyone’s sixty years late and not born

And we go with the flow in the Coal Hole
Where nothing’s been changed since the Tudors
And history’s only a tart with no heart

In her brass and mahogany boudoir,
Making the poor blighters poorer.
So where’s the way out? And the hole,

The hole we go down in, and when’s
The train coming, the train we go home in,
After we’ve started the stoning?

Stone is the way, let me show you.
Stone, where no stone was before.
Stone for the optics and fountains,

Stone for the walkers and sleepers,
Stone for the strikers, the same for the slackers,
Stone for their bodies to melt in,

Stone for the soot-flakes to fall on,
Stone for the myth to be built on –

When all the stone has fallen.

from Blind Spots (Seren, 2008), © Carol Rumens 2008, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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