An empty swing is the grandest image I can muster. Swaying to and fro in the afternoon breeze, there are dead children playing just out of view, and so I go out of my way to avoid them. It’s too difficult. They remind me of her, and of all those things that were once sacred now reduced to nothing at all. Walking the streets, a woman approaches asking for money. She says it’s for the bus journey home, but I don’t believe her. Maybe I’m cynical, but I know she’ll just spend it on booze or crack, and even though it could so easily be me, I dismiss her and smoke my cigarette far away from such unwanted glances. Maybe I’m uncaring, but I can’t feel how I used to. Life hasn’t broken me, but it’s shown that others can’t be trusted. If everyone else is as devious as me, then they’re best left by the side of the road along with yesterday’s shadows. I’m cruel; there’s no denying it. I do what I want, and if it feels good, I’ll do it again and again despite the pain it causes. Raising my face to the sky, each drop of rain is a cymbal rush clawing at my heart. Opening my mouth and collecting what I can, the day fades without so much as an apology. These hands of mine have spread the legs of lovers, but now they spread only the pages of books. There was a time when these fingers caressed flesh as the world outside shone like a smile, but now I’m merely existing, and existing isn’t living. Not even close. Catching my reflection in the windscreen of a parked car, I see myself as a child climbing trees that overlooked a sleeping town. Such wonders still occur, but only when you suspend belief. Erase your fears and twitch your nose. Raise your hands and reach for the moon. Such beauty while drowned in the noise of pushers and pimps; such pain as we watch everything we once knew slip further into the mire. Black swans and white teeth. Knives out and ready for the kill.