Poetry: The Book of my Enemy — The Lions at Taronga | clivejames.com
[Invisible line of text as temporary way to expand content column justified text width to hit margins on most viewports, simply for improved display stability in the interval between column creation and loading]

The Lions at Taronga

The leaves of Tower Bridge are rigged to open
For any taxi I might chance to catch.
They say that when the ravens leave the Tower

It means they’ll use my rain-stained study skylight
As a toilet. I can see Canary Wharf,
A Russian rocket packed around with boosters

Lit up to launch at dawn from Baikonur.
The Blade of Light is cleared for butterflies
To crash-land. When that lens-shaped office block

Is finished it will bend a ray from space
To burn the Belfast like a sitting duck.
I’ve known the NatWest Tower since it was knee-high

To the Barbican, another high-tech know-how
HQ that used to look like the last word.
From my place I can see last words in vistas

As far downriver as the spreading spikes
Of the Dome, some sad bitch of a sea urchin
Losing its battle with a stray Dutch cap

While hothouse pleasure boats leak foreign voices
Like tourist minibuses nose to tail
In the corridors of Buckingham Palace.

Been there, done that. The Queen, she hung one on me.
I’ve got it in a box. The box to frame
My body will be built here, like as not,

And probably quite soon. I’ve lived in London
For longer than some people live all told.
Except for the way out, I know it backwards.

So at night when the lions at Taronga
Roar in my memory across the water
I feel the way they must have felt, poor bastards —

Gone in the teeth. The food dead. On display
All day and every day. Sleep in a fortress.
Every familiar walkway leads to strangers.