The Kazakh In University City

His doctorate is on deserts:
a poorly regarded subject.
He waits, ignored, in an alcove
of the cosmopolitan Common Room
and thinks:

'In deserts travellers smile
when they meet, just pleased to see
another human being.
But here, now, for the first time
I understand loneliness'.

So he rolls his maps, his photographs,
retreats to his bed-sit bolt-hole.
Six-foot women dizzy him on the street:
he notes, he charts stray faces, words.
Passers-by he will never know.

Summer dusk: he gazes up
at honey-coloured spires,
fantastic crenellations
and feels shut out - of Xanadu.
He peers inside an Oddbins...

So two, three bottles a night
he drains to Western rock:
hangovers he welcomes
like a far horizon.
But he fears going back.

by Richard George

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