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‘Old Town’ by Imogen Forster – Primers Shortlist 2017

The churches wear black hoods
and on the inebriated street
bars shine, all glass and varnish.
Voices talk beer and whisky.
A boy kicks a bottle down the stank,
pigeons sip daintily in the grooves
between worn granite setts.

The hunchbacked street
is an arête, a dry fishbone.
Closes fall away from
its spine, swallowing light
down their stone throats.

A green square, grey tenements
and the sun, warming a harled wall:
ochre, ox-gall, ox-blood.
The reek of the flesher’s block
under a pend’s broad arch.

The moon climbs a stair,
hangs askew on a turret.
Shadows walk on stilts.
Men in wigs call for sedan chairs
worm-worn to the silk-and-paper
thinness of a moth’s wing.

Women trot on pattens,
gather up their skirts, loup
over the muck and stand
under shelter, stringing
their bright beads of news.

In a doorway, a man sleeps
to the far-off pitch of fife and drum.
Crow-step roofs and a lone crow,
a gull; their sweet cacophony.

Imogen Forster is on the ten-person shortlist for Primers Volume III. ‘Old Town’ is from her shortlisted manuscript Casting Off. We’ll be showcasing the work of all the shortlisted writers over the next two weeks, so check back to read more poems.

Imogen has just completed the Newcastle University/Poetry School MA in Writing Poetry. She lives in Edinburgh, where she spends happy hours at the Scottish Poetry Library. She tweets from @ForsterImogen.

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