Ferlinghetti-1994 copy
London (Go Figure)
by Robin Cantwell

I am still waiting
            for a revelation
                        I am still waiting
                                     for full frontal nudity
                        also
            for a bus

                        the air
            thick with mist
the Thames
            by gaslight
                        like a bad Raymond Chandler
            all I needed
                        was a trench

                                     and full frontal nudity.

Two come
                                                   both at once
            do me a favour

                        I go straight to the top
            thinking
                        wondering
            and my favourite
                        pontificating

                                     where do all the plastics REALLY go
somebody should stop them

            and what about the PFOAs

                        somebody needs to tell
our old friend
                                                           Mr Teflon
            nothing lasts forever.

            A scream
                        a shout
            sir
                                     please stop undressing
                        oh boy
            this
                        I gotta see.

I go back down
                                                           it’s a man
                        a giant

            a godforsaken monolith

                        he’s taking off his clothes
these things take time
                                     when you’re wearing
            everything you own

            a wave of iPhones
                        flash in javascript

            I don’t know where to look
                        and yet
            it’s the only place

                        my eyes can see

                        he asks
for my bottle
            I hand it over

                                     he takes a shower

            like an English regent

            a waterfall
                        rebirth

he calls me John the Baptist
                                     and asks me where we’re headed

            to the same place, I reply
                        when it’s all said and done

            you’re drunk says he

            I can only apologise
                        I’ve had quite a lot

to drink.

            And then
and then

PAINTING: van Gogh Series #4 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1994). 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this in response to Ferlinghetti’s “London Crossfigured.” Coming from London myself, it seemed like I had the inside track on this—though what came out was a poem about the time I helped a grown man take a shower on a night bus.

Cantwell1 copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robin Cantwell is a London-based writer whose poetry has appeared in Visual Verse and Nine Muses Poetry. He is a graduate of the National Theatre and 503Theatre playwriting programmes,  and is currently on the Faber & Faber Academy completing his first novel.