Rain falls,
Darkening red brickwork
Featureless apartments
Of five floors.
A lone street light’s shadow falls
Into the alley.

There are two men there
Face to face
Trench coats
Fedoras
Rivulets running.
A fumbling of hands,
Damp and dextrous,
A brief exchange.
Back to back.
One back into the black.
The other heads this way.
Echoing footfalls
Bouncing off the side walls.
A glance to right
A nose tip
A dart to the left
Evasive.

Under the filth
Warmth.
A mother.
A family.
Six born.
Three at hand
One more by morning.
He’ll strut the alley for years
Scarring every Tom with
A lifelong reminder.
Then he’ll be gone
And instantly forgotten.

Shuffling
She comes.
Her pram
One wheel misshapen.
Clunk.
Thump.
She crumples
Onto the doorstep.
One hand rocks her baby.
It cries in silence and tears her soul.

A rill runs across the alley.
Dust and detritus and piss and shit.
Meandering, maundering
Oozing up and spewing out
Stinking and stenching
Down the hole it goes.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
A dribble.
A trickle.
A stream.
Sinking down beneath the alley
And under the veil.
Falling, falling
Into the abyss.