Living in the City

Walk into Leeds,
take care not to step
on the cracks
in the pavement.

Am disturbed by raucous music
emanating from a car with the top down,
one of those
sort of cars.

Meet, for the first time, an eight week old baby boy
who has more hair than Wayne Rooney
and, perhaps more pertinently,
more hair than his father.

Have lunch in a café owned by a young man
who appears to run it as a front
for his main business – selling bootleg DVDs
(perhaps best not to mention its name) but the food is good.

Take a deep breath
before looking sideways
to see my profile
reflected in a shop window.

Consider that men above a certain age
should not be allowed into the city
wearing shorts, particularly if also wearing
open-toed sandals with black socks.

Think better of making any mention
of women above a certain age.

Travel back on what used to be called the Free Bus
but is now called the City Bus
because it charges fifty pence per journey;
wonder how much it cost them to re-label
all the buses, all the posters, all the signs.

Visit my doctor who,
as I am leaving his surgery,
tells me to look after myself.

Walk down the street which, not so long ago,
housed the bomb factory;
suppose that growing up in Belfast
inures me to the abnormality
of a bomb factory in the vicinity.


30 Responses to “Living in the City”

  1. belfastdavid Says:

    Experimenting with something different again.

    I am not sure whether this works.

    Your opinions, positive or negative, would be appreciated.

    Thank you


  2. What kind of car??
    I see them around and yes, must be hard to be hard… oh well never mind.
    LOL I like this poem so much, it is about the drum of the city. And I have heard that about those sandals, black socks are better than white though? Not that I mind lol. But in a city people are more aware of fashion. You made me laugg about those women you avoid to mention , wise move 🙂

    The last more serious line about bombfacturies in a city, horrible there are still such factories. It shows the other side of a city and life.
    I can’t imagine what it was like to live in Belfast during the Troubles and I hope it won’t start all over.

    You make me love Leeds 🙂

    Please write many more like this 🙂

    {{{ big dutch hug }}} with love

    • belfastdavid Says:

      *Laughing out Loud*

      Thank you Ina for this vote of confidence in the poem.

      I may write some more of this sort – it was fun to do but I hesitated a long time before I put it up 🙂

      (((Big Irish Hug)))
      with love

      • belfastdavid Says:

        And yes, growing up in Belfast did tend to make the abnormal normal.

        I hope too, for those still living there, that normality returns and remains. Th people of Northern Ireland are lovely people and deserve better


  3. christine Says:

    I really love this David and I know you hesitated and wondered about t. It was worth the wait because it has turned out very well

    It perhaps was wise not to mention the women above a certain age but as we have discussed this subject before I know exactly what you mean and I think you were deefinitely wise to leave them out!

    My grammar is not good today, it is too hot!

    Since you and I came together again, it has been a delight to share your poetry with you and to be able to comment on here. Your poetry gets beter and better,
    You are so special to me.

    Lots of love
    and a special big hug



    • belfastdavid Says:


      I enjoy experimenting Christine and this had reached the stage where I needed to put it out there to get people’s opinions – I feel better for having put it up 🙂

      Lots of love and a special big hug back to you


  4. Elaine Randall English Says:

    This is my favorite bit:
    “Visit my doctor who,
    as I am leaving his surgery,
    tells me to look after myself.”
    Can’t beat that for someone telling you to take personal responsibility! ha ha….nice piece!

  5. Susan Morgan Bosler Says:

    David, I absolutely love this. What a fantastic journey of the “self,” rather than the soul. Although I do feel a great amount of that in there also!!

    Big Hugs, Susan

  6. Hi David. Since you ask directly for frank responses, I’ll try to slip into critique mode (like you, I want frank feedback).
    So … first, I really enjoyed the read. It’s an easy and entertaining stroll for the reader, and made me smile at plenty of points.
    Then, on second read through, I noticed the undercurrent: every stanza observes something with a touch of regret, mostly trivial, but building to more serious with the doctor (penultimate) and (finally} the bomb factory. So this has a strong theme and a sense of development.
    I also notice the rhythm of those stanzas, each kicking off smartly with an emphasised word.
    I wonder whether you deliberately chose to vary the number of lines in each stanza – they are so close to a regular foursome as to suggest deliberate intent in the variations, but then I don’t quite see what the variations signify. My guess is that I’m reading far to much into this – but why only 2 lines about women?
    But you hesitated before posting it. I really don’t see why. It’s a great poem! It flows beautifully, has something interesting to say and to reflect on afterwards, and works very very well indeed!

    • belfastdavid Says:

      Thank you John,
      Thank you for the critique – I appreciate you taking the time to do that.
      I hesitated because normally when I am experimenting I try the poem out first on the Leeds Writers’ Circle before exposing it in a public place like this, but I did not get a chance to read last week and next week seemed a long way away!!
      The poem is in one sense a series of journal entries with each entry (stanza) independent of the others, therefore that so many of them are foursomes is entirely co-incidental (perhaps my sub-conscious trying to impose order where none exists). In fact, if I had noticed, I might have altered the form of some of them.
      The American poet Robert Hass does this sort of thing superbly well and it was his poetry which inspired me to try.
      As for sense of regret I am reading the poem again. That was certainly not intentional (my poetry telling me about me perchance) although the movement from trivial to more serious certainly was.
      I am encouraged to try another in this form, perhaps taking more risks with form.
      Thank you again

  7. Terrific, David – it has a kinetic quality that draws the reader along; sharing the journey through the city. But it’s not just stream-of-consciousness, and there’s no sense that it rambles: it’s completely controlled and purposeful, which I really admire. As in your previous poems, you build up a broad picture using small, perfectly-observed details, like a medieval stained-glass window. There are all kinds of moods here: reflective, wry, sardonic, wistful – there might even be a hint of anger, too, which is never a bad thing. I think you can consider your latest experiment another outstanding success, my friend.

    • belfastdavid Says:


      Thank you so much for this comment.
      I don’t think I have ever had my poetry described before as “like a medieval stained-glass window.” I am delighted by that comparison
      I will now be taking the poem to the Leeds Writers’ Circle on Monday with a new confidence 🙂
      I shall also consider another poem using this sort of structure – it does add interest to a walk to be awake and to pay attention to what is going on around me. Buying a camera taught be to be more observant in one way, this teaches me to be more aware in another.
      But then, as your poems show, you are well aware of the benefits available to us when out walking.
      I hope you have a good week despite the heat and the thunderstorms

  8. David,

    I have seen people attempt these list poems before. Some of them, especially by accomplished poets, are quite good. A lot of what I read by poets who post on the internet are so-so. Personal experiences must draw the reader into the picture, and enable a taste of the emotion and a clarity of the visuals shared. That isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially with this structure.

    Your poem is certainly the exception. It brought me right into your world, where I moved smoothly into each experience. One of my favorite poets once said that poetry should be bottom heavy–meaning it builds substance as it is read so the end carries more weight than the beginning. The end is what stays with the reader. I’m feeling that here, and I like the way you ended this. It not only brings the rest of the poem together–it lights up the recesses to add new dimension to what is already written. Good job, Irish. :–)

    Much love,

    • belfastdavid Says:


      Thank you very much for this comment – I always value your input on what I have written.

      I don’t normally ask for feedback on here (more normally utilising the Writers’ Circle for that) but on this occasion I am glad I did. I think I now have the confidence to play some more with this sort of poem – perhaps taking more risks with the structure on the page and allowing the poem to meander rather more 🙂
      I guess I am story telling really in this format and stories, in the Irish tradition, do meander so we shall see. 🙂

      Thank you again.
      I hope you enjoy your days away.

      Much love

  9. Hi David,

    I’ve given this a couple of reads now. I really like it. I like your observational poetry. There’s a crispness to your descriptions that brings out a lovely sense of fun which I like or a dry obeservation, as in your last stanza that leaves you with a pause for thought that always rewards you.
    I think you take the reader on a lovely walk through this poem. I do get a good sense of place.
    I’ve tried to pick out a stanza or two but reading back again there is an element in each that I really like so I guess I like the poem as a whole! 🙂
    I do very much like the last stanza. For myself your observation is a rather poignant one. Overall though I’m smiling and feel I’ve just enjoyed a lovely day out with a good friend. 🙂
    Thankyou for sharing this poem David. If feels as if you re enjoying trying new things with your wriitng and I’m certainly enjoying the reading!

    All my best to you. 🙂

    • belfastdavid Says:

      Hi Tikarma,

      Now there’s a lovely thought – “a lovely day out with a good friend” Who knows – perhaps one day we will be able to do that 🙂 With a piece of carrot cake to be enjoyed after perchance *Grin*

      Thank you for your comments on the poem – I do suffer from degrees of uncertainity when I am trying new things – but I guess I am not unusual in feeling that 🙂

      I do enjoy trying though which is what it is all about really!! 🙂

      I will try another one next month when I might try to tie together those little thoughts in my notebook which never make it into poems – that could be fun to do!! 🙂


      • 🙂 It would be lovely to share a day and carrot cake with you…who knows what the future holds…:-) I may yet find myself on your shores 🙂

        I think yes, anyone pursuing the creative arts is prone to struggling with uncertainy everynow and again. Not unusual at all. 🙂 Having the courage to push past it and ask questions and continue on despite it, is i think part of what makes good writers/aritsts. 🙂

        I hope you enjoy the next poem. I’ve done that a few times, collect all my stray stanzas and put them together. The results can be interesting. I enjoyed it. 🙂


  10. Hey David,

    I like this. You make many commentaries on one day’s journey through your city. Interesting perspective and observations. Your descriptions are money (right on). Very thoughtful. I like the flow. I’m a fan. I don’t have any criticisms.


  11. “one of those
    sort of cars.”

    LOVE IT! 😀

    and i learned a new word: inure. thank you.

  12. Read it again, I do think it is great 🙂 Congrats!

  13. David,

    Thanks for making my day. I have known a few men with cars like that! 🙂 Great poem!


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