The other day
We just dipped in, into the darkest quarter.
Not the worst for us, just yet: only a test,
a trial and a foretaste of what is going to come
In which we watch, implicated, while they choke
on faded promises of more, the clogging fallen leaves
leftover from an ineffective, disconnected year
As we remain afloat, our launch buoyed up
by hope that this time will be different
from every bloody grey-scale dreary time before
When I first saw the misted strand
(not quite a desert, nor even yet at peace),
At the endless ocean breaking from beyond,
embayed within a continent-long shore
in curving crashing sweeping rolling chords
descending into echoes, undertows
of thunder in its susurrating roar –
heedless of the withered valley’s cries for rain –
pounding deep below the reddened craggy spine
which buried thousands in a night;
Remembering: How small we are,
however many there may be.
under blackening clouds in a darkened room
with ageing bones on a tightened frame
which used to march and trek and hike
Deep in the pile of twisted knots
that pass for my emotions, sparks catch
and current flows, out of sterile ruts to joy:
a moment shivers, suggestive in its subtlety,
to imply there might be hope…
Facing the axe. Hearing
the heavy blade’s heart-cutting ‘whoosh’,
stunned, before thought can hold;
retreat is not an option,
it will split your spine instead…
Neither charity nor faith will save you
in this moment –
nor holding back, nor living with reserve –
only an attack, triggered deep below,
inside that falling curve
I was beaten there:
black and blue; knocked down. It healed;
harder to accept.
Disconnected, an instability pervades it all:
facts fell, even before; but now they disappear.
The close-cropped ground itself has changed,
shape-shifting us to drift in stranger days –
although we nod hello, or pass a word or two
… while walking, as we reprise remaindered memories
in closed and finite loops of rhythmic rumination,
trying (too hard) to make sense out of change,
we furrow in eccentric isolations; untouched,
to bake our bread with shriveled yeast, lacking any flour…
… while we lurch from clutching-straw to breaking-straw
in days chained end-to-end, unmarked by rituals or events,
from which the guiding rope, the warp and weft have gone,
replaced by estimated metres’ distance; leaving
a semblance of society, with awareness shaken loose…
It’s now a desert spring, perhaps;
or continental (since we are no island in this main):
of clear skies, warm days, cold nights…
where magnolias reach up towards magnificence
and cherry trees and hawthorns, and apples mixed with pears
cascade promiscuously in pink and white undress
on empty close-cropped ground / unpurposed /
reminders of a world once-shared;
hedged in by beech that thickens with intensity,
curled and pent and weeks away from springing
against birches, silver-lit and black and thin,
etched stark and fine across an ice-blue sky
~ improbable in clarity ~ and wholly out of reach ~
Refreshing sight but lacking touch,
this hollow shadow spring evolves
while distance spreads around us…
No time for sanctimony;
never mind hypocrisy.
My heart rose because yours slowed:
You were a complete eejit
who harmed our country greatly
in the cause of your career.
But you’ve bluffed against the devil’s dice.
Maybe hell will mend you now.
Red streaks drew down our walls.
Reddened claws of tiger stripes
threatened weaker life in rustling breaths,
choking, culling an unlucky two percent
Except: solicitous, draconian and officious,
the wardens flourished, doubling day by day;
While hoarders, panicking, insidiously
unmasked a national myth of fortitude;
While travellers were condemned, because
maybe, just maybe, well you never know;
While living was suspended altogether
so none at all would ever have to die…
Fevered, we shivered, until reality returned.
Witness: a convulsion in the biome
affecting human life; our brilliant, fragile
human life, drowning in its fear.
Davros plotted. The country sank or swam.
The emperor paraded his new clothes
and celebrated – a new heir, carried by his paramour:
the sixth? or seventh?? or maybe eighth in line…
Absent oppositions disarrayed.
Pretty raged. Aeroplanes still flew.
Numbers flailed, miscounted, multiplied,
pretending they could disappear.
Panics surged around the borders;
trembling fevers magnified, then compounded.
The country sank into a swamp.