‘A Conversation with Oscar Wilde’ is a memorial sculpture across the road from Charing Cross station. The inscription reads: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
Who’d have thought you would see this century,
bear witness to men in pink with sparkling lipstick scars,
who dance by – hop from bar-to-bar like frogs?
They stumble ahead of the light
(it’s three in the morning) and talk for pages
on things you kept in code.
You would be one of them,
if it weren’t that time stretches out so thin,
weren’t for the walls that years build.
They are fleshy smiles with vodka-tainted breath,
swaggering with arms over one another’s shoulders:
panthers out to feast.
You are sculpted from smoke, from bones, from time:
pulled through history to surface here.
A side street where you see the stars once more.
First published in South Bank Poetry magazine.