Down Ingrave Street



Down Ingrave Street

Listening to Van Morrison on Ingrave St
I dream of the time "way back when"
which is always now,
I live in the wilderness of Spirit
which was always present.
Here dreaming comes alive
and hope
and truth
and beauty.
Hopelessly Romantic.
These towers become mountains
and these people angels,
all that matters is God.
Hopelessly Romantic
and Sentimental
and all is bathed in Holiness
and it is the Longing,
The Almost,
The Not Quite
which is far away
and always, in all ways present.

Le Corbusier

The Crow flies high
through perfect skies,
Above concrete constructions of cities.
Beneath it,
The Rectangles of Tenements:
Symmetry of Sign
And Solidity of Space ...
Form Estates like Regiments.
But the Crow flies calling
In the purity of blue skies.
Ascending to heaven
It becomes a non-referencing dot:
A black spot


We have made lives in Tower Blocks
Constructed loves
(and hates)
In Cardboard-walled Boxes.
And we like them
(or hate).
But we have to live here
Whether it is paradise
Or paradox.
Whether it is temporary heaven
or a permanent
We have made lives
Where they only crowed of purity and form.

This Autumn Light

In the morning
before Day and after Dawn
in between somewhere
the air is indeterminate with rain,
the cloud is solid,
the grey uncomplicated
and Ingrave Street sits motionless
in this heavy light.
I am mesmerized by this heavy light
its impeturbability
its leadenness.
It makes the people slow-footed
and tired.
It is a wet light:
cold, unfriendly.
It is a myopic light:
blanking out the distant line of city tower blocks.
It stays us heavy to the ground:
To this place
To Battersea
where the buses grind slow up Falcon road
and we try to remember the other days
previous to this
When the lights danced
and it was bright and warm
and delicate like a fresh born thing;
Or when it was mellow and blurred
in the womb of summer;
When it was angry and startling
in the instant of lightning.
This is the autumn light
When we sit back and remember
The way it was,
The way it used to be
When we were younger
And our eyes saw in a clear light.

Morning Fog

The Fog,
Yes, The Fog has come.
A dense myopia descends:
The shroud of London.
I remember, but do not see
The outline of the city; the fire of the sun.
For the light is thick, misty;
Dullest of lights: indefinite and grey.
The cloud which filtered light
In gentle quietness
Has descended
And I am blinded quite.
I struggled to see
In the many lights
But now I see God clearly:
That I do not see;
That I see but some short way
And understand nothing of the day.

November Fall

What is this?
What could this be?
This light
Gentle, where there was hard stone:
Edges softened,
Noise blurred,
A white light radiant in the dimness of dawn.
Snow has fallen
The harshness and coarseness of the city.
     The grey light has turned white
     And reflects vibrant
     Such wonder, such mellowness ...
But soon
The cars have smeared the road
The footsteps trod the path
And dull warmth
Melts the crisp magic of the coldness
Into insipid liquids -
And swept
Down gaping drains.


Now comes the noontide hues;
And this midday light is not heavy
For the grey is dappled:
Here pale,
Here dense with the threat of thunder;
It is infinitely varied
But one colour.
Its weight gentle
In the quiet hours before schools close.
Gentle now,
As the people walk brisk
Along cold pavements
And the wind lights up their faces
With rude redness.
This midday light is eternally subtle.
While the people toil
It scatters many shades and meanings
Under a high sky
With a wind quick and cleansing.

The Glamourous Dusk

This glamourous evening,
Clothed in velvet,
Fades to night.
But I walk scared
Of inward doubt and outward risk.
The awesome height of towers,
Lit by bright of urban orange
And shrouded in that deep and subtle blue
Might move my heart ...
But as we tread the way back home
Dread stalks us.
Fear waits
Wrapped in the glamourous cloak of dusk.

The Wind

The Wind was blowing down Ingrave Street.
A strong wind.
It often blows
Down that Causeway through Concrete.
As I walk back home
Blowing and Buffeting
Billowing my clothes
But I could not find God in it,
No Holy Spirit,
No Comforter
Just the Blowing of the Wind
In my face.
It blows from the Russian wilderness
And off the wild oceans.
It blows through the prison camp
And down the hungry mountainside:
Veering through the streets of a northern town
And soothing the heat of an olive grove.
Ingrave Street catches winds
And sea breezes,
Faint whispers
And the cold draughts ...
Not releasing Howling Gales
And Great Hurricanes
But the hard wind
Which blows full in your face
On the way back home.


They throw televisions from 10th floor windows
And project voices late into small hours.
They open windows and share Black Box
With a thousand ungrateful ears.
And bottles of water
Crash from unknown hands.
They let screams fall down concrete stairs
And kick children out to howl and shout.
They screech sirens through deserted streets
And verbally assault each other.
And a man is prosecuted
For praying too loud next door.


I do not know about violence.
It slumbers here
and wakes frequently.
Once, in the Laundrette,
My clothes were scattered on the floor.
I shrunk
from my six-foot strength;
but maybe that saved me
from more than the violence of words.
Outside my window
They gunned down a man,
but no-one ever told me why.
In the stairwell of Inkster House
They raped a woman;
Dragging her, terrified and silent,
I will never understand why
(although we know who did it).
And in the pub they smashed a snooker cue
On a friend's head:
The Men of Violence.
Violence sleeps here
and wakes frequently.
(I'll never understand why)
and our dreams are troubled.


She walked
And she was concious
Concious of the Eyes
And of every move that her small body made:
Under flesh
And skirt clinging
And I was concious too.
And you?
And you - you are concious too!


James ' Song

You got to be laid back in this place.
Too much aggravation.
Too much consternation:
The noise when you need to sleep;
The violence when you want to wander in the night
lost in grace.
All the sick people cry out silently -
Too much stress
Amongst these towers,
You got to be laid back.
You got to be friendly in this place.
Too many people I don't know.
Too many locked doors.
The men are too mean.
The women too weak.
Got to catch each drop of human sympathy
And pool them into oceans.
Too many lonely people
Amongst these towers,
You got to be friendly.
You got to be tall in this place.
Too many shrunken people.
Too much self-loathing:
The babies never grow,
The children never learn.
We got to be giants together
in the shadow of these towers;
There's too few giants
Amongst these towers:
We got to be tall together.
You got to take your shoes off in this place ...
Why you got to take your shoes off?
'Coz this is a Holy Place.

God Lives On Ingrave St

God lives on Ingrave Street
His Spirit blows the litter down the road
and his angels climb the concrete stairs to home.
His hand eases the pensioners fall
And finds the giro that was lost.
He hushes the baby's crying
When all was almost lost and gone.
His hand made the rusting cars
And through the skill of mechanics on side streets ...
He repairs what we have wrecked.
His name is heard in conversation
and desperate prayers
echoing round the silent towers
and singing in the music.
On a summer evening,
Or in a winter dawn,
After three when the kids come out,
Or late in the night between days,
God moves and hustles like the Wind.
Like the noise of people
And the bouncing of loud music
through bright air.
Like the wailing of police car sirens
and old men hobbling to the shops.
God lives on Ingrave Street
Sometimes he is in and sometimes out
But he has made his home here
And I have met him.

The Celestial Ice Cream Seller

My God is the celestial ice cream seller
His ice creams are the best
Espeicially in the summer
When the weather is hot.
My God has made his home on Ingrave Street
He likes to live here,
In the great bulk of Scholey House,
Because he is a humble God.
My God sells his ice creams in Sutton
And by the Houses of Parliment.
Sometimes he sells them outside St Pauls
Or even nearby to the "March for Jesus".
My God's ice creams are the best.
But he doesn't make much money
Because he doesn't sell them ...
No! He gives them away to rich old men and Japanese tourists.
Sometimes I go and visit my God,
Often he isn't in
Because he's selling ice creams in Sutton or by the Houses of
He doesn't live there.
He lives on Ingrave Street, in Scholey House,
Next to the man who plays his music
Loud and late into the star-encrusted night.

The Towers

Father God
Make us strong and tall
Like the Towers of Ingrave St:
Guard us from Infestation,
Keep us cool in the Summer Heat
And sweep us with your Cleansing Broom.
Make us safe behind our Security Doors
But let us not be unwelcoming
And Suspicious of every Stranger.
In the Daytime grant us the joy
of laughter and friendliness
And in the Nightime the refreshment
of quietness and peace.