Penge High Street

Will Hatchett

Believed to be in talks with himself
Mad Tom is shouting at the trees
And hurls abuse at the passing cars
He was washed up here years ago
No-one notices the bearded Defoe
And his crazed pavement philosophies

The bunting thrown across the road
The dappled leaves that softly dance
The neat almshouses' quiet calm
The traffic island, almost a square
Why, but for the food – crisps and nuts
One could almost be in France

Day after day simply passes by
In a routine of meat and bread
One road leads out, by the spire of St John's
The recreation ground and the Memorial
Here, the men of Penge are detained
Eternally. The dead are still dead

From the Crooked Billet I observe
The shadowed play of cloud and sun
In the guitar shop window. I absorb
The amber units of passing time
And the insane rantings of mad Tom.
Slowly, nothing is going on

Author's note: Most people would consider Penge, which is a suburb in south-east London to be a scruffy, non-descript place, even a joke. But I love it. Penge is not ugly by any means, but I am bored by poets always crapping on about beautiful places and the countryside and I want to redress the balance by writing about small epiphanies in the  places where people actually live. 

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