Mark Fiddes’ shed poem…

The Lost Gardens of West Norwood

Spring has not been a great success
In the claylands of South London
Now daubed in dog shit fauve
And splashes of sepsis yellow
May’s the cruellest month on record
Even the crows have lost interest

“We are now approaching Balham”
Southern Rail announces
Without sympathy or respect
Weary sheds and flailing trellis
Early cabbage and sacks of woe
Spilling bottles to Streatham Hill
Where late commuters goggle eyed
Wait outraged as stranded salmon

The lost gardens of West Norwood
Buried many Edens deep in
A conspiracy of ivy
Yield the flotsam of summers past
Plastic chairs and cricket bats
The slow rusting barbeque
That carbon dates the happiness
Of a long divorced family

In the drizzle of Gypsy Hill
Pale mansions damp with memory
Dissolve gently as pain-killers
Into the moss-choked guttering
We shunt on to Crystal Palace
Twinned with Melancholia
A murder scene with brick arches
And ornamental dinosaurs

Behind the sweating café glass
A man holds his lover closer
Than a cello, breathing her hair
For the first bowed note of summer
While on we roll to London Bridge
Their kiss blooming deep within us


Mark Fiddes

Born and raised in Northamptonshire, Mark Fiddes now lives in London after spells in Oxford and Washington, D.C. When not stuck on the Northern Line, he works as a Creative Director and magazine columnist. Over the past year his poetry has won prizes in the Philip Larkin, Charles Causley, Gregory O’Donoghue, John Clare and Frogmore Awards. He has also been published recently in the Southword Journal, anthologies for Templar, Fish and Lightship Publishing as well as the Human Rights collection In Protest and the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual 2013.

2 thoughts on “Mark Fiddes’ shed poem…”

  1. What a fantastic train trip of shed and other back yard sights!! Super first verse and things never slow down as we are pulled along. So many good lines, don’t think I can pick a favourite, but for example – the “slow rusting barbeque/ that carbon dates happiness/”. Thanks Mark, and thanks Abi for the theme. Look forward to lots more 🙂

  2. Thank you E.E. Very kind. On the subject of West Norwood, I learned yesterday that they just put up a blue plaque to honour one of its most famous sons, Raymond Chandler. Now we know where “noir” originated.

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