It was the thirteenth of September,
it had been rainy and the trip from Thornton Heath
was hellish, a fact future overground rides would later teach me.
And upon exiting the station
from opposite the exhibition centre,
I thought we were in Oxford Circus.
It was the cosy second-hand bookshop that caught my attention first,
with their free servings of scalding tea, old children’s books
and novellas that had free fleas on them,
Italian and Japanese restaurants that ate all of your money
and a 24 hour corner shop that sold vodka to minors.

After settling there, the rest of its world opened up to me
and my later gratified self:
During the summer it felt like paradise,
Technicolor trees, open airs
and cement streets that were as bright
as the sun, a personified fantasy
that played with all five senses,
while in the winter it’s like 1955. Dark, cold and jazzy,
not that I’d completely know, but the empty streets
would say so at night.

A hidden cosmopolitan world
where foliage have fences, poodles are proper and locals run amuck
from Chelsea after game day.
Well, that’s SW5 for you.

Published by troycabida

Troy Cabida (he/him) is a Filipino poet and producer based in south west London. His recent poems have appeared in TAYO Literary Magazine, harana poetry, MacMillan and bath magg. He is a producer for London open mic night Poetry and Shaah and co-founder of Liwayway Kolektibo, an arts and culture network providing space for UK-based Filipino/a/x creatives. His debut pamphlet, War Dove, was published by Bad Betty Press in 2020. Photo taken by Ray Roberts.

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