Marc Stein

year two in london, january 2005


I would miss the bitter
And a few favourite places
To drink it in
Mainly by the river which
I would also miss
But there are other rivers
I would miss the foxes
I would miss friends but
I miss them all around the world
I do also quite like the buses
And of course the tube with
All its flaws
Then there is the heath which
I live too far from to see often
There are the galleries I went
To almost religiously in the
Beginning looking for something
To believe in that didn't cost
For reasons of money I never
Go to the theatre, dance,
Or other productions—
I don't know what I am missing
There. . .
I would miss much of farringdon
And clerkenwell
Miss lincolns inn fields
And chancery lane and fleet street
Bloomsbury, the British Library
And all museums I nearly never
Because all my time is spent
Looking for work or going to
The places I already know I
Shall miss.


But not eating much
Or just putting any old
Rubbish quickly down the hole
Going whole weeks without really
Seeing the sun or anyone smile on the
Streets, sleeping on cushions balanced on
A wooden palette in my room that lets in draughts
And the constant rumble of the buses and siren screams
The double talk, 'I'm not sure you should' meaning simply,
Always, 'I'm sure you shouldn't, but won't commit to saying so'
Which is far better than the constant complaints (like me right now)
And the adverts that find 1001 ways to talk about this country's pet hates
The rise of vulgar tastes of music, dress, television and film, best-seller tell-alls
To say nothing of the widespread rise of weight, in this the second fattest country
On earth, second only to the place I'm going back to. . .I shan't miss at all, at least not
Until I'm finally gone.


feeling like
something broken
on the assembly line
never making it to market
like a number dropped
in the street
and more valued things
carelessly misplaced—
feeling so prematurely tired
so near to not knowing
what next to try, knowing
I had to be close to getting there
Or perhaps not, as I've already
Moved into the past tense


The only good thing about this season in mach schnell and arbeit macht frei
(Or would do if only you could find work)
Is how it makes you so easily amused if not ecstatic by things you might not
Notice in a place where sun, flavour, less-recently-invented-ancient-histories
And fun
Are part of the common lot and not some rare and exquisite commodity.


I think constantly about the past, the places I've lived, the things I've done, the people I feel I've been,
And yet feel for the first time I am truly living in the present;
In the past, thoughts
Of where I am going and I what I shall become (soon, soon, soon enough,
Don't worry)
Protected me from this concentration that has me under thumb: this constant sense of
Where I am and what the hell can I do to get out?
I'd do anything I fear
Lie cheat steal from those against me
Which is you if you're not with me
Anything to get a future before me again and get away from this here and now.


I'm turning into my father—
Helpless to the change
Like that woman in the
Yellow wallpaper, I have his
cough, though I don't have his
Habits, his bad ankle, bad back,
Bad temper, bad jokes, bad opinion
Of my chances at success,
I snore and sweat,
I drink red wine, fizzy water,
Black coffee, orange juice and
Little else, I like only dark
Chocolate for sweet, like red meat
As much a sucker for curves,
I see I'm even dressing more like
Him all the time.
Can I blame this on London too?


go out in the morning
but packed in like tinned
fish that won't look each other
in the eye
won't look up
reading rubbish
to give them some
thing else to see
come back in the evening
to rubbish everywhere
from what people have
read to what they've drunk and
eaten to mysterious liquids
you try not to rub up against
as the customers
(they're not called passengers here)
rub up against each other, staring
into each other's glazed over slightly
reddened eyes, asking in overly loud
voices "how's your night going?" and
maybe even, as I once heard a man ask
a girl with a blanket asking for change,
"would you like to come back with me"


I keep my peripatetic thoughts in little black books.
I kept one a year for five in Spain.
Since moving here I've moved up to a larger sized
Model and filled up four.


the blasts that
give you four seasons
in a day if you're lucky
or just five minutes of
sun a week if you're not
in this
moss covered society
of bursting–
food or plastic stuffed–
bodies simulating motion in
this place of changing
tides that drown, of
more needles than hay and
grey cars lined with silver
and silver haired horrors
that look through or
past you as they
float by.


I live with spaniards
Go out with italians and greeks
And belgians, germans, icelanders, finns,
Work with an american born in
Athens, travel to the med
Whenever I can, still listen to
Music and read books from that
Part of the world where I send
The bettter half of my mails
My style comes vaguely from there
As do the values I'm conscious of,
My tastes,
My wants,
My imagination goes there,
So am I really here?


I've had to come here to try like this—
Had to for so long,
My conscious life
Lived waiting for confirmation,
Or is it just tautology?
Reading my diary I find I felt the
Same about
America Once Upon a Time.
Is this then only
A case of familiarity and Contempt
Where confusion in spain
Kept me from ever knowing anything
Well enough to hate it?


in all my suffering I have found
a person I like and can build on.
well, they say life begins at thirty. . .
that gives me nearly 2 more years
of practice or just time to fuck it up


white hairs that weren't
there a year ago
my almost always empty
wallet, meaning no:
micro-dermo abrasion and botox,
teeth whitened and trainer so
I will not look like tom
cruise at forty
are all things london makes me
think of at twenty-eight.


in london I have become a man looking
for a job and nothing else. I have had
everything else and there is nothing more
left of me but a want a need and memories.


the americans are right to call the second year sophomoric


mark the crow that eateth
McDonalds from a bin on Lewisham Way
Till I draw near drawing him lazily away
To a rooftop
Till I draw near drawing him lazily away
Into the air to fly off
His character that would rather
Eat rubbish than fly.
Mark the crow; marc the crow.


I do like the occasional swathes of
Georgian houses not removed by
The blitz, the fin de siecle disneyland
Or the sixties social engineers.
I love it when the clouds become
Anti-social with each other instead of with us,
The sunlight
Making me laugh and want to leap out of my
Skin and kiss everyone,
Though I still don't like the people.


today everything reminded me of
california: the shops, the cafes, the crowds
as I walked with a friend from crouch end
to camden wondering why, till I realised
it was the amount of sunlight.


with windows open at night
and only candles I feel good
lying in hot water under warm
light while the wind washes away
the steam as it rises
or is it because I've finally found
a job


I go out with the herd and come back
With them so I finally feel a part of
My surroundings, though I feel very
Little else.


I shaved my head yesterday
but these changes don't let me feel reborn the way they used to.
I coloured it the week before.


I have a bed! I have bought a bed.


This is a city of professionally, rapidly aged jeans & old t-shirts and pressed immaculate suits. Of the two uniforms, I prefer the latter, for they are, at least what they claim to stand for.


my home has become a wonderfully little niche I occasionally slip into


last night one of the biggest YBAs served me in a bar


the first thing I did in london
was suss all the ways you can
eat for a pound
next I started walking everywhere
then I began to make friends
went out for a drink now and then
on small change
found a girlfriend we went away
on ryanair I came back
looked for work lost hope
found a job by chance
then more and more jobs were
of course offered me and now
everything is fine and small
so I'm back to looking


are liberating them
of their museums and libraries
and other wealth law and order
past and future
its about ensuring freedom
the freedom to shop
and occupy
not preoccupy oneself
with implications for
hypocrisy takes care of that
trust us.


over the phone
it's been quite
cautious, dry but
you can still read
something from it
from the 31 times
her name shows up
on the screen:

hey! My legs r in
pain as I did a
5km run on
wed. . .maybe we
can meet in
hoxton with

A bit sleepy. . .but
not "freaked
Out".had a nice
night. . .

Found my bank
Card! Have fun

Dancing night
Away w
René. . .not 2
Worry, every
Thing is
cool.sleep well.d

hey mark. . .r u
up 4 a short
walk? I need a
break from my computer.13:42:12
my phone died in spain so I guess this one stops here.


Your life is filled with ghosts
Leaving little space for
Us mere mortals.
One of them is dead
One gone, having moved on
Unlike you who'd rather
Roll the past over and over
To idealise what you haven't
And safely distance what you have.
I'm so grateful for your honesty,
The changes I feel at work. . .
Your ability to talk openly
About the past but presently
I'm angry
That you're not here
When with me for wanting
Nothing more than memories
And sadness over life's loss, lost lives
Awkward I'm sorries, ceaseless comparisons
Vexed desires, requited but impossible loves
Relegated to the realm of what might have been
If only you'd had one last conversation, if only
He hadn't met someone else, if only life weren't so. . .
Bittersweet? You mean? A closet romantic:
One of your many secrets
Secreted away perhaps even from yourself
And covered up in other words used
By you to shape the space you actively occupy
Where nothing means that much
And everything is
Under control
On track
In order and overall
Out of mind.
Do you think this is feeling?


Why does everyone seem a caricature?
A hot blooded drama queen
So cold and logical, questioning everything
One nasty
One nice
All so unmeaning
That I feel little desire left for closeness
Little desire for anything or anyone at all.