Dog Leap Stairs

Thin Riddle



After the scrabble to the top,

   the scrape of hooves

      escaping over the cobbles


      soaks into stone

   and a cloak evaporates

from under a gaslamp.


Engines roll overhead.

   A Roman, or maybe Norman

      sentry watches on the wall


      while, in no time at all

   a boy in a flatcap

strikes a match against its ruins.


Spray-paint on masonry.

   Stroll back to the bottom

      where hen-dos huddle


      in the same strange archways

   as sea-weary sailors

and the neon kebab-light


illuminates a glossy top hat.

   A city riddled with cracks,

      spaces to slip between,


      where history lurks

   with the homeless under railway arches,

the way the pubs sit


in shadows of bridges. Metal rails

   press down from above, squeezing

      past against the present.


      A quick skip through time,

   a dog-leap. Look up and imagine

some adventurous terrier


daring the gap between windows.

   Except this is a spot

      where the crack has outlasted


      the rock, a thin riddle running

   through the foundation of the town

from quay to castle keep.



Peter Hebden is a poet and prose writer from Wakefield, West Yorkshire. He now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne after completing an MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University. In the past he has worked with various artists and organisations to produce publications, installations and digital projects around poetry and creative writing.