6.07 / London Calling

Two Poems

the action of descending rapidly from a height once the decision to land has been

If we could fly – if arms were aerofoils
with cambered hands; if a brief jog
built airflow, lift; if up-stroke, down
-stroke, angle of attack were as natural
and hard-won as walking –

if all this, then most of us would
still drive. Internal combustion:
more relaxing than all that flapping.
The work of sparkplug, piston, oil.
Besides, air traffic control. Bloody

nightmare. There’d have to be
brightly-coloured fly-to-work schemes.
Vouchers for kids on cereal boxes.
Maps of scenic flight-plans, produced
by flushed-faced Greens. Proficiency tests.

Enthusiasts would invest in the right
helmets, arm-beacons, lycra, sure.
You’d always mean to get some
exercise, but couldn’t bear the thought
of showing up sweat-patched.

In tourist-towns, rickshaw-flyers
with gorgeous deltoids would haul you home
from Friday night, so you could feel
the wind in your hair without all the hassle.
You’d look down. Look! those lights.

And the people. Wee dots. The ground.

Leith Walk

Leith Walk
I heart the 6am cycle, weaving
coffee-unsteady from Kirk St to Waverly:
my rain-dark Sisyphus hill clean of cars,
make like blind to traffic lights.
I heart the miracle of Easter Road,
that shock of Arthur’s Seat, reward
for its heavy-breath climb. And I heart
when the midnight 16 dumps you out
at Elm Row (all the right fucking
ingredients). I heart the ripened bins
in Valvona & Crolla’s genteel unlit
cobbled alley: a week’s feed. I heart
Pizza Hut, its waste cornucopia, heart
the nightmare glow of roundabouts,
gay bars, bus stop perfume ads, heart
our cultivated multiculture, shipped
in, shopped out, knocked down, flagged up.
I heart the brownfields, heart the blood.
I heart Leith. And of my loving,
half of it takes arriving or leaving –
so what hits when told to heart:
that slither of hope between heart and hate.

Harry Giles is a writer and theatre practitioner from Orkney, Scotland, currently based in Edinburgh, where he organisers Inky Fingers, a live-lit and writer development event series. On the page, he's recently had poems in Haiku Scotland, Drey and Anything Anymore Anywhere; on the stage, he has won awards and multiple slams, including the BBC Scotland Slam 2009, the Glasgow Slam 2010, and a nomination for Best Performance by a UK Poet at the Farrago Zoo Awards 2011. He blogs at http://harrygilesbrazenrhymes.wordpress.com, where early drafts of some of these poems have appeared.