For M.M-H. Still, always

there’s a line of wet black birds on the edge
of the roof like a string of blown bulbs. one
old crow with a wing out crooked as a pirate
flag. silence. caches under concrete slabs.
fly-tipped sofas sag. gulls pull bags from bins.
off-white-outgrown christening gowns. women
with striated faces puff and shove at buggies
full of shopping. dogs on their paranoid errands,
feinting at fences. game-show snarl on rotties,
staffies, pits. and there’s these kids, who shit
where they live: ringtone cynics in ski-masks
carrying pool cues. baseball bats. and lately—
knives. scrape a screaming grace from treads
of trainers, tyres; black grout between the tiles.
little town of conquest and vomit. ‘ead the balls
counting your weregild, smirking. here, your smile
betrays you. young men hunt in packs. doped,
provoked, with nothing in between. unprincipled
insomnia. the nights they tigered. tyranny.
defective weather-system, orange, blue.
on days like these i think of you: toking,
broken. the chipboard walls you’re yoked to.
and cars on bricks all stripped for parts
like medieval catafalques. landfills, fields
and edgelands. acne, aggrogasm, scar,
the hieroglyphs of harm. i think of you.
st stephen’s day, we pray for strength
in times of persecution. but did you cast
forth sparks? make perfect love a lightbulb
moment. no. we pray to forgive. i walk
the river where you lived. stretched
like black magnetic tape. my body
could break this depthless plane, intent
as a spade. pray to forgive. the sides
of your head, spoiling for stones. nickel
blade that nicked the bone. these stupid
streets like hardened arteries. the rocks
they threw. the hate they give.