Gull; On the glass observation floor


Cars stacked like dusty cups
close enough to snatch 
the stopped cyclist’s cigarette.
Paling halide glows 
and tropical sunset
flicker in juxtapose
with the driver’s greasy horn
and auctioneers’ invective.
But watch that parapet
of bare wired concrete:
the white gull landing
paused and posed wings up:
a smiling gymnast girl
who knows she was perfect.
Spotless purity arching 
in demi-plié to unheard 
minuets, gliding through 
dirty dusk, feathering light
sweeping grime and sweat, 
sharing them 
On the glass observation floor

My whited sailor petrifies 
my red haired brawling corpse man 
with his anchor tattoo
and thigh smeared with mustard
sweating on the clear tiles 
with a baby's reflexive grip on the rail
terrorized by the vanishing point: 
glass floor fathoms tumbling past doves
to spilled wine river shine refracted 
through feather thin transparency.
Two town brasses and sixteen pints of depth
statue sobered by skinny skyscraper air;
his feet foundation stones
holding whole cathedral weights poised 
on wafers cloud suspended brittle sugar lumps.
The wind’s burbling audience 
and orchestral siren tunings 
float to the tapered towers tip. 
His horrored eyes flick humiliated 
museum loot pinned on glass 
the heifers brow awaiting the hammer,
all is falling, spinning in the fall
his belly cramped with the image. 
I want him to look at me
to separate me with his look 
from the gawping tourists mutter,
to allow me to comfort him
with my hand on his wrist:
but Bristolish his shipmates come
roaring, laughing, mocking, busy as terriers 
ushers hauling off the cardiac as the act continues 
unclamping dead fingers from the metal
delivering him from the glass like a christ 
some totem pole snatched from a wicked tribe 
and slung between canoes, erect for dignity.


John Grice writes stories and poetry and lives in London. His work has been included in Prole and Close to the Bone.