Poem: Dad’s Black Cab (and live on the BBC!)

Yesterday was National Poetry Day in the UK, and I went on Robert Elms’ BBC Radio London show to perform a couple of poems and talk about Spread the Word‘s upcoming London Laureate tour. I’m Bexley’s poet for that, heading back to my home borough to run workshops and gigs for young people. During the broadcast I performed a very London-centric poem – a univocalism (that only uses one vowel throughout!) about my dad being a black cab driver. Here’s the text – and you can listen to it live (95 mins in) as part of my chat with Jason Solomons.

Dad’s Black Cab

Dad’s a black cab man:
grafts hard all day
– half a day, standard –
all warm chat and charm
a canny bard
that gladly attacks cab ranks.

All want a cab
a cast that spans all walks:
sparkly gymnasts
smart bar staff
daft granddads
brassy grandmas
sarky Yanks: blah blah blah
larky stags: lads lads lads…

A hand sharply flags
flat palm prays skywards
a brash man calls hymnals:
“halt! Cab!”
Dad parks: “ah! Canary Wharf?”

Dad’s a pathway analyst
starts a sly atlas maths
charts all maps, calmly tracks yards
smartly adds stray past strands:
gnarls at St Pancras
bypass Pall Mall
flyby Aldwych and Bank
anarchy at Trafalgar
at V&A, Shard, RADA
data synchs, standby: a plan
Dad says: “Away!”

Dad plays a part
talks backwards, chatty:
shhhh! says man, angry
and hand taps flatly at smart pad –
snarls at call alarm, blasts talk back.

Dad plays Adam Ant, ABBA
Alt-J, Frank Zappa, Alabama 3
as cars blast past.

Abracadabra: cab parks at Canary Wharf
“a grand” Dad says – a gag
man says: ‘nah’ at that
and can’t pay – ran away!
Dad gasps
tsks – a black cab hazard.

Dad adapts
day crawls past…
and dark.

At last, back at flat
Dad yawns
warm snacks, TV, a G&T
and, at last, Dad naps.


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