The City Savage

by Justin Wong (August 2023)

, Otto Dix, 1912


Amongst mist-grey growths,
Of bricks and mortar;
Behind the shrouds of stone,
Within urban wilds;
Neath the arch of underpass,
That protect from the element’s caprices:

Here he is:
Primeval and Modern;
Backwards and forwards;
Upwards and down;
In Progress and regress—

The return after progress
Is his Jerusalem after time.

He forms the ranks of a savage gentry,
His is a bourgeoise primitivism,
Labouring in offices soullessly corporate,
Hiding the signs of a pagan nature,
Under shirt and tie, trousers and jacket.

He establishes ties,
Inscribing names of
his dubious kin,
In a pen of iron,
On the book of his flesh.

His beliefs: atavism on the one hand,
And futurism on the other,
One foot in the tropics,
The other in undawned day.

His mind is conflict:
Pantheism and individualism;
Universalism and alienation –
The essence of anti-religion.

Pharmacopoeia is his Eucharist—
Memory and transcendence.
Death is his end,
though the future his salvation –
The donkey’s carrot to a Shangri La
One is moving ever nearer to,
Though always the same distance from.

The city savage in the savage city,
The nose-ringed amongst electromagnetic waves,
The bodily adorned that pass through
The acrid fumes of stuck traffic,
The de-civilized amongst extant remnants
of a rescinded history.

This is a renaissance of prehistory
at the end of time,
Savages in the hour pragmatism,
Adamites in their nude communion,
The cannibal in the courts of law.


Table of Contents


Justin Wong is originally from Wembley, though at the moment is based in the West Midlands. He has been passionate about the English language and literature since a young age. Previously, he lived in China working as an English teacher. His novel, Millie’s Dream, is available here.

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast


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