TP logo

| Books | Music | Events | New work | Contact & ordering

Lay for the Day
2nd September

1666: at 2am a fire broke out in Farriner’s Bakehouse in Pudding Lane, close to the northern foot of London Bridge. Within an hour the fire was raging out of control through the city. By the time it was extinguished on the 6th it had destroyed 13,000 houses and 88 churches. Amazingly, though, the great conflagration took the lives of only eight Londoners.


catastrophes, entertainments
a shower of sparks

she picks her way across the littoral junk
dead shoe soles
seeming more charred than drowned
the inch lengths of clay stem and
oyster shells
the pearls that have been, who now are bones
and echoes

ashes of the festival faded over the marsh

as though I saw through time
the face she had as a child
when ways were equal, without degree
my eyes went hungry to meet her eyes

diesel sucking the morning’s grey
drags us to our stop
the foam of every ocean laps the kerb

once The Cut
had an accent quite distinct
to the late Fred Stringfellow, piano tuner
almost blind from birth

at 3am the long blue streets
are empty like the sea
one by one
the cars are carried away on their own sound

and one mindful satellite
and the fox
that leaves no wake in the sleep of the city
pass over stars
and under

a needle
to quilt the time in which we dream

and in solution, voices
precipitate, then drift to silence
a battleground founds the settlement

I was looking,
said the policeman in the voice of a plaintive child
in the frigid noon of the midnight shop,
for a Pot Noodle

body armour on his belly.
the eons
have the nature of water which nothing withstands

I alone am aimless and depressed
said Lao Tzu

as some old Asian makes his bed
of litter among the litter
on the New Kent Road near Speedo Pizza
it does not seem the way to a land of apples

When nothing is done, he said
nothing is left undone

John Gibbens
from Sand of the Thames

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar