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Long Beach, CA

Return to London

Poetry Blog

Return to London

Brandon Cook

The day was crisp when I came here, a young man,
To London
To Bill and Blake and the Bulldog
The whole world on the threshold of my hostel
A new flannel shirt to keep me from the cold
The leave-less trees of London stirring in Atlantic wind
And on my face, the indomitable grin of youth
Bouncing like a blown-up punching clown
As my footfalls echoed down Baker street
Despite my awkwardness
My inability to negotiate the tube

I went three stops too far on the wrong line
Before realizing I was headed far afield of Covent Garden
I swept into people’s way on the street
I asked for a pint of Bombardier, rhyming it with Perrier,
(The barkeep placed it down and said,
“That’s Bombardier, mate…like dropping bombs, eh?”)

Now, I walk more secure, either more mastered
Or more mature at masking
Aware of how to hail a cab and flow through crowds

Something is lost in the exchange
The world more behind me now
The thrill over each hill a bit dampened

Good God the crisp air by the Thames as I paid my ticket
Scrambling to figure out how much each coin was worth
Then striding down to the Beefeaters and the great glorious Tower
Real as brick

At Oxford, I said something that offended my tour guide,
But here I had the good sense to keep my mouth shut,
The faces of the past welling up like Trafalgar on the tide
As the cold wind swept tears into my eyes
(Or from them, who could tell?)
And the great city opened all the past
And all my future flowed before my anxious feet
Like the Thames rolling to the sea