This is Oxford

An updated version of a poem I first wrote for my very first spoken word performance 6 years ago now. Just the second verse remains.


This is Oxford
City of eternal disappointment
You wear the dreams of your anointed like a sleeve of glittering jewels
Delustre them and leave them with the litter at the evening’s end
For the pitiful and pissed to pick over for sympathy and pennies.

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

Swaddled in gaslight
So even the night is never truly black
And silence is fractured by the toccata of the organ scholar’s call
Summoning the chosen ones
Behind the high stone walls
To claret-spattered drinking rooms
Where Rhodes will never fall.

But that is not my Oxford
The university of lost causes and last chances
Where tears and razorblades are not ashamed
To cradle one more crazy dream before it dies
Where broken people stitch themselves together in the shadows
And myths mooch jowl to jowl with memories

Head south beside the river
Where parkour crews kick tricks from brutalist bridges
Making shapes that make the hairs on the nape of your neck stand up
Where the city’s blood beats syncopated bars
And graffiti coursing through capillaries of concrete inks its skin

Turn left by the Angel and Greyhound
Down the lane
Where angels with thickened veins do trade by burned out cars,
Where cider softens scars on arteries that would not open
And paths of glass climb broken brickwork
Far above the city’s choking snickets
To rooftop highways
Where poets primed in Primark paint spit anthems birthed in beautiful anger
To the gaudy and the gorgeous of the night.

This is Oxford
Last kisses licked from filthy lips
The desperate drips of promises and sweat
Whispers to the ones who might just make it yet…
This is Oxford
This is Oxford
This is Oxford

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