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For those who walk pavements

If not praise, something like a thought or two for archaeologists who dig up car-parks searching for the bones of a king and for the council-worker sweeping dust and dead leaves with an edgy sway, his tattooed face, looking into cars but not seeing as commuters look away. Regard briefly those involved in texts spats with boyfriend or girl. The woman who stops and holds up her phone as if it were a chalice and she sought to quench her thirst, those who read braille from pavement cracks and stones; who walk as if on air, or weighed down by something shocking left over from their dreams. Pavements have many guises— some are hectic as motorways, others as still as forest trails, some have more cracks than others. Spare a thought for the wanderer, meanderer, the blinkered, the lost. Spare another thought, light a candle, for those who travel without compass or map who leave the house with vague intentions, an idea of destination, yet happily drift off course.

Pam Thompson

30 the poems

Speeding Sari

We crawl behind her on a wet late afternoon in the clog of returning traffic. She has covered her head in a swathe of sari; drab gold, colour of underside carpet. Her arm swings, punches — but it costs her. She is all will in the shack of a body. A carrier bag, half full, twists. She swaps hands, then swaps back, then hangs it over her left shoulder so it beats her at each stride. I have seen ants take just such a straight line, bearing pieces of bark, dead comrades. A brief turn of the head, as if catching air, then she cuts down a side road; sari hoiked over worn trainers: ridged heels, thin knives — slicing, slicing.

Claire Booker

All things weird and wonderful

In the shade and fade of light, mad-beard man bums beer and cigarettes with such charm, booze-breaths his rage and wild songs at the sky, us watchers and random passers-by collides with cat-box girl who porters a macaw, her gold and turquoise star clay-licking the bars, and all is quite well with the Chinaman pushing up the hill, stretching horned toes and Mandarin beard into a tall tale of the city, heard by a woman who poses sleeved in frills, the Thursday night Venus of Belleville, sipping her pastis Aux Folies alone, save pirates, parrots, skulls and crossed bones.

Kate Noakes

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