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Anthony Johae



It is starting to rain.

Umbrellas are going up, but I don’t own one.

In Oxford Street they’re going home,

but I don’t have one.

I take cover in a station entrance.

The air smells wet, car tyres hiss,

and I shiver.


I settle by the river.

It is night and I lie under the canopy.

I stare at the stars and at the moon’s fullness

and wonder if there are better places.

The pavement penetrates my bed

of newspapers and squashed boxes,

and I shiver.


There’s a girl not far off in a corner.

She talks to me and I get up.

She’s running from a father who beats her.

She’s cold and says she’s hungry.

I go to buy her a burger with my last pound.

When I get back I find her in my sleeping bag.

She takes the burger and tears at it. A wind bites,

and I shiver.


We lie in the bag together.

She sleeps – I feel her warmth

and catch the heat of her breath.

I sleep too and dream of another planet.

I wake at first light and find her gone.

There’s a note: “Thanks – see you again.”

It’s going to be a warm day.

Antony Johae (b. Chiswick, 1937) taught literature in Africa and the Middle East for thirty years. He is now writing freelance and divides his time between Lebanon and the UK. His collection, Poems of the East (2015) is published by Gipping Press.

Border Tree (On the Israel/Lebanon frontier)


There’s a tree in the way of watch tower view

The frontier’s barbed and you can’t get through.

One side wants the tree cut back,

The other refuses at risk of attack.

Long-armed caterpillar stretches out, amputates

The offending tree, precipitates

Exchange of powder, lethal lead,

Cost of skirmish: two shot dead.

The tree stands still in line of fire

Waxes well in sun and soil – and grows higher.

Militant Thistles

Poor Doors
Sheriff Stars

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle
bedroom tax
Disrupt and Upset
bedroom tax
Sheriff Stars

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle
Disrupt and Upset

Militant Thistles

prickling the politics of "permanent austerity"

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