The Guide



A city rose inside your mind,

London, Paris, Rome,


Its markets full, its people kind,

New York, St Petersburg,


Its marble streets cool in the sun,

Florence, Islamabad,


Blue incense blessed its rivers’ hum,

Delhi, Byzantium,


Wake to the smoke and whine of planes,

Los Angeles, Milan,


All cities rot into their drains,

Karachi, Stalingrad,


All have cold hands which stretch from doors,

Vancouver, Samarkand,


Barred room where men roll on the floors,

Havana, Birmingham,


Those which saw bread queues down the street,

Tirana, Archangel,


Now open smart bars where whores meet,

Bucharest, Saigon.


So have you come to mock my dream,

Beirut, Byzantium?


No, you too breathe a city’s name,

Work, lost through waking.  Rome,


Jerusalem, Jerusalem!

Your lamp-hazed bed is home.



Alison Brackenbury

If you have any comments on this poem, Alison Brackenbury would be pleased to hear them.

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