STAR POems: Guildhall, Portsmouth

i.m. Edward King (1862-1951)


The painting looks a bit off, wonky walls

splay from the vertical, the roof is gone.

Light streams from between colonnades like flames.

It might be sunbeams through the guildhall’s ribs.


Six incendiaries torched the building,

so hot the copper cupola melted.

Records, art work, furniture: all gutted,

The fragile bones of the building remain.


Domes survived, balanced precariously

at the edges of the building, about

to fall, crash in the ash of the innards.

They’re painted as beacons of survival,

poised to tumble yet maintaining their place

party balloons hoisting the city’s grace.



Sue Spiers