Urban Planning Clinic

The streets have low-down hucksters clamouring with metal,

Urban Planning Clinic
Photo by João Barbosa / Unsplash

by Tempest Miller

Practice in London,
the final destination of the truly helpless.
My patients are opposed to the notion of the global city.
They are maddened by the rush,
The city is violent
and crippled in cyber-mania,
and too circular about its own image.
They say it makes you feel like you live in a
Dickens novel.
The streets have low-down hucksters clamouring with metal,
the oyster shell financial buildings disgorge urban radiation.
Walking past the city state institutions where language breaks,
and the health buildings,
clotted in pungent halls
with gaunt nurses in green-blue,
men and women in white beds with exploding faces.
They can still hear it in the countryside, they say.
The city follows them,
 a corporal house.
Well, how do you treat that?
How do you tear down the haunting visage of the entire world?
Bill burns himself with cigarette ends
and puts needles into his fingers.
He’s been in substance abuse since age 12,
followed by the sound of the runway at the International Airport
he grew up next to,
which used his back garden as a flight path.
He cannot go on planes.
He sees them without roofs,
roofs ripped off,
and broken, folded luxury chairs
squashed in ruins on fire on the ground.
Some of them say that they don’t even mind the city.
They merely hate that all cities are alike,
Well, even I’m starting to feel it,
sick and mentally fatigued.
I have a sore behind my left eye
the colour of a tropical fish.
And at lunch I go and sit outside a stone courtyard
in the administrative unit. 
I eat a coleslaw sandwich and sit on a fountain very still trying to feel it digest. 
Breadcrumbs, seeds, pigeons. 
It rains over London 
and the rain sweeps 
in one long chariot over desolate ring roads.
My mind goes back to my patients 
and I walk with my head down,
and think if electrodes in their brains would help.

Tempest Miller (he/him, twitter: @ectoplasmphanta) is a writer from the UK. His work has appeared in Swamp Pink and is forthcoming in Boats Against the Current and Chiron Review. His debut chapbook, England 2K State Insekt, is forthcoming in February 2024. He lives between a building and a lake surrounded by green trees.