Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Bowie And The Brighton Road

Two days after we heard the news, it seems like the world has probably said everything it can say about the death of David Bowie.  His history has been replayed, his life and art picked over for soundbites, his final album Blackstar analysed in forensic detail for clues to his demise.

It's hard to isolate my own feelings inside the welter of words which have tumbled into the ether since I woke up on Monday, looked at my phone and uttered the single syllable: "No."   Everyone, it seems, has had something to say - from artists to fans, from NASA to the Vatican, from the German government (sincere) to our own (less so.) It seems as though everyone I admire and a good many I don't have had been out there, delivering tribute, curating collective and individual grief. I shared some things others had said which seemed to make sense, but I felt wordless myself. 

 I could have stuck my journalist's hat on, made my personal comments and subjective judgements, trawled through my own history to tell you when and how and why I encountered David Bowie, what he meant to me over the next 40-odd years of my life, why I feel so lost.

But I wrote this poem instead.

Brighton Road

The boxed thief blossoms red, by gaslight and sodium
On wet tarmac. He beckons, but I am safe by my window.
The farside of town towers bloom black
On a green hill far away.  
I am driven in bright arterial flow
From the city to the sea. The red lights stalk me in the backseat.
On school days I cross the line by the bridge, down to the trolls
And the dead men in the morning.
I stole like you, while sweeter girls held roses.
I hoarded up my swag. I did not see the electric fear
The bloodflow north and south, hid what was burning bright
On either side of the Brighton line.
Now, I have lost my bearings.
The lines have closed, the stations shifted.
In the dead days following your reversed resurrection,
I am carbonised in black, when red was what I wanted.