London is to wealth what

The jungle is to the orang-utan ;

Its natural habitat,

But it is feeding on its poor,

Who dare not live there anymore.

The cranes swing crazily

Building stepping-stones

Even nearer the stars

While oligarchs look on hungrily

Aboard their super turbo-charged yachts and cars.

The skyline plundered for profit

Daily now it seems

The dark star of the economy

Sucking in resources and people, even Queens.

Now even modest railway arches are upgraded

Out with the old in with the new

Shops and delis, pretentious and expensive

Now ‘prettify’ the view.

In a culture that is unstoppably,

Entrepreneurially driven.

Soon there will be corridors of steel and glass

From Limehouse to Kings Cross;

Miles of safety-deposit boxes in the sky

And nobody to occupy them –

Certainly not the like of you and I.

At night it becomes a wall of black

Punctuated by an occasional square of illumination;

In the boxes nobody is at home

And won’t be for a generation.

Then there are all the iceberg houses

Subterranean monstrosities

That dwarf the pygmy shacks

That sit a-top of them.

And their underground swimming pools,

Tennis courts, and cinemas

As large as  dance halls can be seen

Where London isn’t aiming for the stars

It is becoming a subterranean city

With nothing but an empty shell in between.



A disused rail track in south Paris;
A dark tunnel;
Crawling, wading, through water
To a dank chamber with vaulted ceilings.
This is where the cataphiles meet;
Lovers of catacombs
And all things underneath.
The walls are covered with art
Awash with glow-in-the-dark paint,
Egyptian black-and-orange devil faces,
A multi coloured parrot image.
One wall is encrusted with mirror shards
The centerpiece a glittering disco ball
The ghostly faces leering
Down the long subterranean hall
This is the City of Light
Where nobody sleeps at night
And the remains of six million Parisians,
Transferred from Paris’ overflowing cemeteries
More than one hundred years ago,
Now artists prowl these same catacombs
Sometimes unseen
Ghostly in their movements
The spectre of real ghosts always in their slipstream.