Superpowers by Fran Lock

On the Tube we discussed our superpowers: you
have no inside voice and cheekbones to die for. I
have Catholic guilt and running on fumes. There’s
a street we are always approaching through rain
where girls with the bright, flat look of tattoos go
by. The scurvy brickwork weeps, and if you walk
through the Jewellery Quarter you might meet
a man: miraculously hunched, with a loupe in
his eye. He is bent double; he is going about
the truculent astronomy of diamonds. You can
squint into brilliance, see? A custom piece will
resonate with stars.

And this is when I said I can’t show you my
London, but between the caffeinated thermals,
tie pins and boisterous funkadelic tat, we might
be discovering yours. Curdled breeze that smells
of traffic, the grumbling pageantry of twat mobiles,
wanker chariots, four by fours. Charity shops
and swanking in hats, fortified by our victimless
furs. We can be ourselves, and we can breathe.

Which is something. Point out again: St Pancras,
standing, trident in hand, like a homoerotic
Aquaman; the turret, its mad Victorian lowbrow,
fibreglass folly for a defunct fish tank. Laugh.
It was another world then. Lamentable vendors
of tepid meat, the man who tried to buy me for
a fiver in the pukey light outside Costcutter. I’m
glad that it’s gone the way of all flesh. London,
slowly sinking into itself, leaving only a smile.
Last sliver of ice that tastes of the gin it swam in.


Fran Lock is a sometime itinerant dog whisperer and author of two poetry collections, ‘Flatrock’ (Little Episodes, 2011) and ‘The Mystic and the Pig Thief’ (Salt, 2014). Her work has appeared in various places, most recently POETRY, and The Poetry Review. She is the winner of the 2014 Ambit Poetry Competition, and the Out-Spoken Poetry Prize 2015. Her poem ‘Last Exit to Luton’ came third in the 2014 National Poetry Competition.


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