Susannah Martin is a final-year student of English with Theology and Religious Studies.

Mounds of black plastic bags

imitate plague victims

paving the back alleys

awaiting men in green overalls.


In the early hours of Tuesday

they come.

Clearing the streets of their waste,




churned by a beastly machine

leaving nothing behind

on the cold slate slabs

but the carcass of

a dead pigeon.


Birds chirping overhead

on buzzing telephone lines.


Cats purring through their morning stretch

on the neighbours' garden wall.


Alarms ring through the houses,

toasters ping,

kettles boil

and the smell of bacon lingers in the streets –


Men and women leave for work

leaving behind only

that dead pigeon.