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  • Len Evans

Coming Home in Public (Summer 2020)

Len Evans is working on his first publication of poetry with our in-house publishing company, SlapDash Publishing

Here he shares some recent work:


I stroll a full circuit just inside the fence,

just inside my surreal sense of the day. I find

and perch on a brand new, black painted bench.

I’ve walked into a painting.

He’s come further south of the city for this view,

minus the factories and smoking homes, but his

dogs are here, tails up, inquisitive. Tails down,

exhausted from runs between other dogs, birds stealing

and joggers who frighten them into another chase.

The older man, bent over, is also here, hands

behind his back, struggling like he’s walking up

a steep hill. There are mothers with buggies who

stop and talk to mothers with a similar lifestyle.

Families bustle, kids run wild, skateboarders rattle

and land, and there’s the man in the suit, into his

fifth hour of sleep, laptop for a pillow, umbrella

staking his ground.

He still captures all that is local, all that is unusually


I rise from the black bench and walk away with no

possibility of getting back to the previous life.


The warm weekend brings a bigger and different crowd,

celebrating escaping lockdown, confused as to whether

they’ll be arrested for hugging their dogs and friends.

Today the park claims its own identity. A single man

and eight women pop champagne, spilling into white

goblets, cooking on a mobile kitchen, females obsessively

hair flicking, popping further corks for every male in

tight shorts that passes. They’ve hung out every summer

since uni, exclusively singing Girls Aloud’s Greatest Hits.

Fifty yards away, eight men and a single woman sit in a

tight circle, on a quilted blanket they all created in 2012.

The only female pushes for a dance with each man,

squawking through intoxication, biting legs, straddling,

pinning each to the ground, grinding her pubic bone against

each back. Gay Pride brought them together, fighting for

their right to stay in the open. At the end of the day it takes

a four strong team to carry her amorphous shape to the car,

accompanied by her singing, Get Out Of My Dreams

and Into My Car.

Sun worshipers worship, chain smokers break their own

outdoor records, drinkers drink ‘till poisoned, trees keep

social distance without masks. In knee length shorts

and matching vest, the coolest man in the park effortlessly

walks his new born on his front, his wife sleeps deeply

in the arms of an oak tree.


He doesn’t like to think why he’s left his collar at home.

He walks the park, arms fully extended with the good book

open in the palms of his hands, eyes intent on the text, then

flicking to other worlds - an undergraduate reading Conrad’s

The Secret Agent under trees, a couple on a multi-coloured,

graffited bench and men killing each other with water pistols.

He walks past a smiling infant held high in the crook of an

unidentified tree’s thickest arm. He seems not to notice the

five naked men on the café roof, working their Tai Chi routine.

With stained finger tips he brushes the biggest tree in the park.

It immediately sheds its leaves to a shocking bald. The

smashing of glass is heard somewhere nearby, the roar of the

Mississippi bursting its banks and the silence of the remotest glen.

In his hip flask there is coffee and whiskey, but greater, an

intense craving for anonymous sex like he once had for caviar.

The wind slaps him, water drips on his head from a clear blue sky,

his feet bleed.


The breeze brings relief from the sweltering, late afternoon,

plus the effortless words of lovers, leaves scurrying, cannabis

from a trio of sporty teenagers, choking my throat and burning

my eyes. But these youths are the exception. The rest of the park

needs no stimulants. There is contentment on a family blanket

for three, the interracial couple who lie in a beautiful muscular

join, the men, just married, who quietly talk about adoption with

their pasta salad and pigeons pecking from a left over banquet

without a contest. Harassment, coercion, crime, the forcing of

opinion up or down any orifice seems to belong to another

community, society, world. I sit in my fold up, canvas chair,

take note of youths’ shape and energy and decide not to judge

their imperfections too harshly.

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