Howard Firkin
(everybody’s got their heads bowed down)
The mail lands in the middle of the hall
and Oxford starts. The sky is Oxford blue
(that’s cloudy grey to folks like me and you).
Step out. On cue, the rain begins to fall.
The dons are gone. The chavs and tourists swarm.
This place—I should have known before I came—
does not exist. It’s there on Google maps
perhaps, but Oxford isn’t real. It traps
you into thinking it’s a place, the same
you dreamt of, but it’s only there in form.

No postcards of the scaffolding appear,
just pictures of the spires. Don’t inquire.
The answer isn’t what you want to hear.
The answer’s Oxford. I must be a liar.