Published: Dec 11, 2012
A poem about urban nature cliches by poet and publisher Tom Chivers.


The urban fox darts from beneath the Telford Homes hoarding,

pauses, then turns towards me in the middle of Old Castle Street,

his yellow eyes glowing in the darkness like the eyes of Iain Sinclair,

like the eyes of Iain Sinclair giving an impromptu lecture

on the history of Hackney Brook. The rushing of blood in my ears

harmonises with the gurgle of a sewer from a nearby manhole cover.

There is a new vista across the site which makes the street appear

to float, just an arbitrary pathway, when I know it is ancient,

a stubborn cleft running east to west, parallel with the Road

to Camulodunum. The pigeons are fat where the cooking oil

spills into Bazalgette’s tunnels, congealing in underground grottoes

into huge waxy stalagmites we might come across in the gloom

as latter-day Toshers, urban explorers who note floating turd logs

on their customised blogs. There will always be weeds

thrusting up between concrete. It’s so easy to muddle up

junk for geology. There is science, there is fact, and then there is life.

You’ll find me, head down, in a mulberry bush.

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