Fresh off the boat!a poem heavily based on a poem of the same title by Billy Collins. This is his. // This is mine:

Directions - after Billy Collins

You know the wild bushes at the back of the flat, the ones that scrape the kitchen window the ones that struggle for soil or water, and fail where the train tracks scar the ground? And you know how if you leave the bush and walk the stunted land you come to crossroads, paved just weeks ago hot tar over the mangled roots of trees, and a squad of traffic lights, red-eyed now stiff against the soot stained fallen leaves?

And farther on, you know the dilapidated allotments with the broken sheds and if you go beyond that you hit the first block of St Thomas Street Estate? Well, if you enter and ascend, and you might need a running jump over dank puddles into the shaking lift that goes no further than the fourth floor, you will eventually come to a rough rise of stairs that climb without railings to the run-down roof as high as you can go and a good place to stop.

The best time is late evening when the moon fights through drifts of fumes as you are walking, and when you find an upturned bin to sit on, you will be able to see the smog pour across the city and blur the shapes and tones of things and you will be attacked by the symphony of tires, airplanes, sirens, screams, engines and if this is your day you might even catch a car chase or a hear a horde of biker boys thunder-cross a bridge.

But its tough to speak these things how tufts of smog enter the body and begins to wind us down how the city chokes us painfully against its chest made of secrets and fire how we, built of weaker things regard our sculpted landscape, water flowing through pipes, the clicks of satellites passing over clouds and the roofs where we stand in the shudder of progress giving ourselves to the vast outsides.

Still, text me before you set out. Call when you reach my door and I will walk you as far at the tracks with water for you travels and a hug. I will watch after you and not turn back to the flat till you merge with throngs of buses and cyclists, heading down toward the block, scuffing the ground with you feet.

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