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Staying Human: new poems for Staying Alive #6


The streets are empty

but a crowd has gathered in the air.

Trombones and cellos on the balconies,

a song gradually taking hold.

The music invents a square

where all of us slowly appear,

a plainclothes orchestra surprising ourselves

like the flashmob we watched together:

first the lone double bass like a statue coming alive

then the bassoon and violins,

the rushing brass like firemen looking for a fire,

the shoppers dropping their bags and pumping the ode.

The man in the T-shirt turns to us, his hands in the air.

We're the city now and the square,

leaping from our strange disguises

to sing to each other across the darkness.

[17 March 2020]

Peter Sirr

Staying Human is the fourth in Neil Astley’s Staying Alive series of world poetry anthologies from Bloodaxe Books, due out on National Poetry Day, 1st October. Bloodaxe have joined forces with Unbound to offer readers an advance subscription with exclusive extras (offer closes 31st August). For more details, see:

Staying Human includes 500 thoughtful and powerful poems about living in the modern world, with a strong focus on the human side of living in the 21st century. Bloodaxe would like to thank One Hand Clapping for offering this space to share these poems from Staying Human with readers.

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