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1. Paperback Byron

Walking on beauty
There you were
All sun-snogged skin
And dust-dappled hair.
From your smile
Hung a promise;
From your ear
Hung a charm,
And slung,
Over your shoulder,
A backpack,
Larger than mine…
For there I was,
In the shadows,
Sideways smile -
Oh so cool -
Clutching a copy
Of Byron’s Don Juan -
Image, shattered -
Six euro short of,
And miles from,
The platform I
Been on.

2. Orange Juice

You had change
So there we sat,
English poses,
On a train
From Turkey to Greece,
You laughing at Byron
And us
Negotiating ages
Settling upon
A respectable gap,
Talking and sleeping
In snatches,
Then on to the meal -
First of many -
Bread, shared,
Orange, juicy,
Half-cut with scissors
By me
‘Til you pulled out
Some fuck-
To finish
The job I’d begun.

3. Mecca of Anarchy

I had juice in my eye
But you didn’t notice -
Thank Zeus -
The Aegean sea
Salty odyssey
Rolled by -
You intent on
Keeping the view
Whipped out a camera
Whip pan and zoom
Held steady by my
Genius scarf
Tied round the arm of a chair
Transcribing to film
What would have
Slipped by -
Train tracks, hours fly
Thessaloniki -
“Mecca of anarchy
Twenty-oh-nine” -
Rose up around us
Flanked side to side
By graffiti and Greeks
In an orthodox line.

4. Orthodox Night

I’d woken that morning
To the call of
The mosque
No help to us now
In this city of God.
An overdose
Of candles,
And station food
The siren of Somerset
Flew into the dark
And I followed suit -
Backpack locked up,
Sleep-sack to hand -
Past burnt banks,
And circled “A’s”
At last we stopped,
To the sound of hymns
Back-to-back for the cold
On Byzantine walls
Peppered with poppies
And piss.