The Flats


The flats, the levels;
the ups, the downs.
This overlooked patch,
a mile out of town.
a moral core,
are absent; like
respect for the law.
Transience saturates
the atmosphere.
Restless population,
the near, the far;
daily visitations
of Police cars.
England now;
English rarely heard.
Polyglot syllables;
alien words.

Psychic Geography:
how things transpire
for most of us here,
clogged in the mire
of daily existence.
Some aspire
to decorum, civility,
a veneer
of respectability.
Others sink
into shabbiness,
The image, the feel;
down on their luck,
down at heel.
It’s easier to merge,
to disappear,
into the drabness,
the greyness here.
Transience saturates
the atmosphere.

I live in a one-bedroom flat (or “apartment”, in American parlance).  The flat was purpose-built, about thirty years ago, and is one of about forty such buildings, set-back off a side-street, about fifteen minutes’ walk from central Peterborough.  As I recounted in my last post, I spent Christmas and the New Year away in Yorkshire, and returned to the flat a couple of weeks ago.  The day after my return, I was startled to see a FOR SALE sign, hanging over my front door.  Most of the flats here are rented, but I paid-off the mortgage on mine a few years ago, and so happen to be one of the few occupants of the flats here who would be able to put my flat up for sale, if I wanted.  However, I have no intention of selling the flat at the moment; hence my puzzlement at the sudden appearance of the FOR SALE sign.  It soon transpired that the estate agents had made a mistake, and put the sign up outside the wrong flat.  Anyway, this random event, together with my recent return to the flats, sparked a new awareness of the comings and goings, happening around me in this location.  I began to get ideas for a series of poems, based upon characters and events I see around me, on a day-to-day basis.  The above poem “The Flats” is designed as a general introduction to the subject, and I intend to post related poems in this blog, as and when they transpire.


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