A boy dashes across the road
from darkness into streetlights, flit
       of limbs through lanes, his bar-code
              body lit
for these few seconds. Then he’s gone,
deletes himself with one last stride
       into the darkness on
              the other side.
The sodium lamps, tall canopies
along the median of the boulevard,
       are yellow and weak, but these
              alone stand guard.
Outside them, shadows thickly mass.
Only small bits of buildings — a sill,
       an eave, a sheen of glass —
              are visible;
a footpath fading into black,
a rubbish bin’s half cylinder,
       a swarthy pool of shellac
              around a fender.
Beyond the lightly captured islands,
there’s nothing, not a glint, and save
       the roaring highway, silence
              like a vast stalled wave.
This is what the boy departs,
and joins again, unknown events
       that his decision starts,
              or those it ends.
I saw him maybe six months past.
I am thousands of miles along
       the road, and moving fast
              to the latest song,
awake, in the middle of it,
but stressed and trying not to sleep
       on stretches poorly lit,
              trying to keep
a closer eye on where the street-light
gives way to dark and all is lost
       or found, since that one night
              my path was crossed.

from Early Hours (Gallery, 2015) © Justin Quinn 2015, used by permission of the author and the publisher

Justin Quinn in the Poetry Store

The free tracks you can enjoy in the Poetry Archive are a selection of a poet’s work. Our catalogue store includes many more recordings which you can download to your device.