by Sam Byfield
Rumble of coal trucks, clack of hoof
on stone, babble of dialect, portent, break
of sun through slats. I've stopped listening
to my dreams. Pigeons wheel overhead
like bullies at a building site. Spring's buds
aren't buds but metaphors. The city dons
its masks each morning, yet every man
can sense what's coming. This house sees
everything: her living, dying, our little ones
confused, bereft, then gone themselves.
A general roar outside the city's walls,
the crunch of boots, men mobilised.
Northern warlords have come for their share.
Already, though, I'm dead inside, history
has taken from me all it can.
Editors' note: Read a review of Sam Byfield's The Middle Kingdom by Edgar Y.B. Mao here.