Desolate Streets. A poem by James WF Roberts

Living, still photograph
teaming rain, steam bellowing
from the heat of the bitumen.

Thundering train breaks the silence; as it alights
at the platform.

Neo-Noir—gothic laneways,
something so lonely
when the neon signs
girls, girls, girls;
live, exotic, nude;
suddenly go dark.

Shrouded faces, plastic hands;
my smoker’s cough I’m a walking pariah;
they all look at me. They all shun me.

The gaunt, silence of the world,
the echo of my boots along cobble stoned alleys.

Craving human touch,
craving an embrace;
human contact,
sharing a smoke with a stranger
outside a bar; is that a crime now?
Using cash at the store,
cashier trembles as they accept it.

Longing for her,
sleeping on my arm, once again.
so I can’t escape.
My bed’s like an ocean now.

Empty train, homeless in one carriage
a junkie shooting up in another,
in this one I’m all alone.
claustrophobic face mask,
gloves are giving me a rash,
dog barking in my street,
wakes me,
other dogs follow suit and try to one-up,
normally I’d scream out,
the barking and distant traffic
the occasional clang of the tram
stopping on the main road,
baby crying next door,
my neighbours are having sex.

all these mundane glorious noises.
give this desolation, this isolation
a voice.


James WF Roberts is a Melbourne based poet and performer, with a long running community radio show, Monash Spoken Word, is currently in pre-production of two radio plays a horror verse novel For James’ previous work.

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