Crow Aptok

And look: crouched low and fast asleep,
house-backs, back yards, rear
extensions, washing lines, bedroom
windows with the curtains drawn,
black brick, parallel tracks – and
as the rocking train speeds by
each day new hieroglyphs,
the traces of gatherings, larks
while others were sleeping.
It’s the artists again. Free of
their baggage, their books,
they wear beanies of fleece
pulled over their ears, the gear
slung low on their belts.
When the moonlit arc of the tracks
cuts a swathe through the city,
they are bats on the parapets,
gliders on girders, cruisers
of cool steel, finding new cuttings,
bridges, embankments, the dark
nose of a tunnel. And here
where the buddleias spark with
Cabbage White, Peacock,
Fritillary, they speak in tongues:
Rainman, Toxo8, Slam, Fonz, Wikid.
On a bridge in Oxfordshire,
the great Crow Aptok, the man
who could hood his eyes like a hawk.
Reputations hang upon
the bulge of their as,
the rake of their proper nouns.
They are the night shift,
the artists of darkness.
Remember me.
I was here. I was here.

Beatrice Garland