More than a city

a cluster of cities stretch

onwards through space,

one sprawling into the next,

so many areas

I've never set foot in

and west of the electric line's

a foreign country;

you see the names of neighbourhoods

on yellow buses passing

this evening square

where, instead of Nokia,

the street dogs are connected

by a different network

and as the night descends

some distant hound pipes up

then others howl back.

They roam around

in crazy, noisy packs

these canine delinquents

hysterical and after blood,

tear pieces from clothes.

It's how my battered old guitar

became a weapon

that still bears a mark.


Published in Stepaway Magazine, October 2018.







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john short

Tue 6th Nov 2018 09:08

Hi Keith,

Thanks for your comments. Yes, Athens is a city of contradictions - the high culture and the low behaviour, but it's also a city with an extremely strong musical tradition which documents a social history. A bit like Liverpool or New Orleans or Havana and that's why I kind of love it. I call it the haunted city because its 20th century history is alive everywhere. Even the contemporary kids still use the street slang of the the old 1930s Rembetika guys.

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keith jeffries

Mon 5th Nov 2018 09:40


Having visited the city many years ago your poem took me straight back there. I found it difficult to understand that a place so historically rich in culture, the arts and commerce could have fallen into a morass of humanity whose past it was difficult to find.

Well done on POTW. Well deserved and thank you for such an excellent contribution.


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john short

Wed 31st Oct 2018 23:20

Hi David,

Thanks for your comments. Actually the only thing I forgot to work into the poem was their insane addiction to chasing policemen on motor bikes.

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Wolfgar Miere

Wed 31st Oct 2018 13:45

Hello John,

this is a clever vehicle with which to paint the landscape of a labyrinthine city. I can see you navigating streets late at night, maybe returning from a late gig, your means of artistic expression becoming a weapon, which is what all guitars should in reality be used as.

As Woody guthrie famously noted "This Machine Kills fascists" (and dogs) although I do love dogs and would be reluctant to harm one, other than in self defence.

A great idea and well conveyed John.


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