Above, there are ghost signs,

messages from another time

carved into sandstone

set atop Palladian frames.

Below, orange moonglade—

mångata, rain-made,

cast of streetlights

and damp tarmac,

stretching out in the mist,

causing stray walkers to dance.

The air is thick with the smell

of rain and wet stone—

it takes you back,

to dry patches beyond the Grove,

beneath the chestnut trees

and tumbling structures—

this was where we’d shift,

feeling brazen with our wet hair

and mute phones.

There are whispers everywhere,

each lamp and brick a reminder—

down there, that’s where the Gingerbread

used be, where you could score a nodge—

even your voice would twist

in the telling, searching

for where that fucker used live—

they have all become myths,

even yourself,

once the lord of nameless streets.

Was any of it real?

Did you really see that runner’s

face smashed in? Is his body

still there, out beyond the Scout Hall,

buried in some leaves and twigs?

The paths lead beyond the streets,

to where the curbs are broken,

and the bounce of leather guides you down,

content you had escaped,

but eager to return,

to tell stories of your nomad existence

in the places you always tell stories—

you would speak of the emptiness,

the sheer and lifeless cliffs,

the uncontacted peoples

who set about you while seeking diesel—

hello, old friend, your mantra,

the words that bring some comfort

out of those myths, marking the way.