The sky is a washed-out theatre backcloth
behind new façades on old baths and gasworks;
downtown, under the green sails of their scaffolding,
a dozen buildings' tops steer over the skyline.
Belfast is finished and Belfast is under construction.
What was mixed grills and whiskeys (cultureless, graceless, leisureless)
is now concerts and walking tours (Friendly! Dynamic! Various!).
A tourist pamphlet contains an artist's impression
of arcades, mock-colonnades, church-spires and tapas bars;
are these harsh attempts at buyable beauty?
There are 27 McDonalds, you tell me, in Northern Ireland
('but what are we supposed to do with this information?').
A match at Windsor Park has fallen in Gay Pride week.
At two a.m. the street erupts in noise.
I listen as 'We are the Billy Boys'
gets mixed up, four doors down, with 'Crazy' by Patsy Cline.
And gathering in the city's handful of bars,
not sunk in darkness or swathed in beige leatherette
men are talking of Walter Benjamin, and about 'Grand Narratives'
which they always seek to 'fracture' and 'interrogate'.