The Homeless Man Thinks of Ancient Egypt
I pray to the sun on these temple walls,
the shifting angles and blaze of it,
the way it melts the pavement ice
mid-morning near the cashpoint.
I imagine them as merchants, astronomers and viziers
sitting at the window of the coffee-shop opposite
then they become slaves and slave-owners,
baboons manoeuvring the flow and current
of glinting windscreens,
tax-collectors with the snapping heads of crocodiles
that cancel me with an eye-blink;
asps and hawks and chattering ibis.
I am sore beggar and heretic
but Horus shares the sun’s strength with everyone
and for moments He lets me stop time
freezing the figures in KFC and BetFred the Bonus-King,
jamming the screens inside Lloyds Bank
while Ra makes a gong-bath out of the street-roar.
The gas-workers toil in their jack-hammer clatter
on the banks of the traffic-river.
One squeezes the life out of a cigarette,
the vapour of his breath in a shaft of sun
is like the frost of my breath in this aching air – we are brothers
under the midday moon I take for divination and augury.
The sun’s transit takes the blaze
behind high roofs, there is a trapezium of light
I shuffle to at the corner, it forecloses.
Someone has bought me a coffee, her glance contains a smile.
I open the lid and take a careful sip. A packet of crisps too.
The moneylenders have not quite taken over the temple.
Anubis looks out through the eyes of a jackal-headed dog
trotting up to me, just out of reach. It sniffs.
Weigher of souls, tomb-guardian, am I fit for Paradise?
Winner of Teignmouth Open Poetry Competition 2018