Rob A. Mackenzie
The facade may resemble a run-down bookies
bolted onto a gun-running estate, even when
the metal shutters and scrawled obscenities
rise like sacrificial smoke and a door spins
helplessly open. While you wait, the quicksand
sofa surveys a tableau of mustard walls, a pink
TV showboats repeats of The Weakest Link –
what is the capital of France this time around?
You can rely too on the king prawn szechuan,
the best dish in town, and always the same
quantity thumbed off an abacus like a Ford
production line – corpulent, veiny, submerged
in soy sauce, sesame oil – a sudden eruption
as innocent papery chillies stun the tongue.
a grand 18th century
flanked by a gothic
cathedral, art deco
a score of brutalist
yellowing like pages
of secondhand books
and behind them
a demented skatepark
bowl ramp flapping
toward the sanitized
probe, which scrapes
evidence of decay,
ashes, dying tongues:
like braziers balanced
loosely on dystopian
landfill sites – a city
filmed in saliva
praying for a Listerine
flood, a washed-up
saviour to drill
the scorched terrain
like a kiss.
Rob A. Mackenzie is a Glaswegian poet, editor, reviewer and occasional translator. He lives in Leith. His poetry collections are The Opposite of Cabbage (2009), The Good News (2013) and The Book of Revelation (2020), all published by Salt. A fourth collection, Woof! Woof! Woof! is coming from Salt in the autumn of 2023. He also runs literary publisher, Blue Diode Press – https://www.bluediode.co.uk/ .
To discover more content exclusive to our print and digital editions, subscribe here to receive a copy of The London Magazine to your door every two months, while also enjoying full access to our extensive digital archive of essays, literary journalism, fiction and poetry.