This is Oxford

(written for the event This Is Oxford at Blackwell’s)

This is Oxford
Centre of learning
Burning ambition
A war of attrition
With intellectual ammunition
I don’t mean to cast suspicion
On your mission for erudition
But if you have a moment
I think you should listen

This is Oxford
Sheldonian and gowns
Proud parents coming up to town
For kids so high they daren’t look down

This is Oxford
Bodleian, Blackwells,
Manuscripts and yellow books
Reading Keats on the pavement
Casting upskirt looks

This is Oxford
Promising the earth like
It’s your birthright
Till it finds your imperfections
And decides that you’re worth shite

This is Oxford
Spotting celebrities in Jericho
Would she take you to bed
If you said you saw someone from Radiohead
All this music
Could make you lose it
But if you had to choose it
Would be Gaga singing Born This Way
But you tell all the girls you’re the drummer from Stornoway

This is Oxford
The hour before sunrise
Alone in the alley behind Blue Boar
The last drops of darkness clucking for dawn
Glimpses through drunkenly-drawn curtains of someone else’s porn

This is Oxford
Nightmaring spires where choirs caress you to your rest
And dress you for your final journey
Everything burns but the lingering lies
In his cataract eyes
A sick old man in a shabby gown
John Huston at the end of Chinatown


4 thoughts on “This is Oxford

    • hmm, I’m not sure in poetry terms (though I did set out wondering what the possibilities for a Ginsberg-ish journey through Oxford by night might be like), but I *am* halfway through a new novel that’s set in this world (not a thriller this time) – announcement tomorrow in fact 🙂 – and I’ve written a flash fiction piece about the seamier side of Oxford student life that would be very at home at Grit Lit

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