Weekly Poem #202

People Watching

 

Expressions without words, faces contorting,
Some semblance of emotion, untethered from context,
Lively, fluid muscles, shaping canyons and valleys
Stretching outward and inward again and again,
As if manipulated by some massive, calamitous storm.
Pick a direction and follow it, stay still
Or get caught in the middle, shuffling aimless, perplexed.
Crusted minds cracking as they bash into each other,
Glued like mites to circular silken highways,
Firing out signals, taking on water, negotiating,
And scanning for a line of best fit, somewhere in the tangle.
Only questioning it in those quiet, solitary moments,
When you watch the rest of them going past,
And try to figure out how it ends, or where you fit in.

Weekly Poem #194

Stalking Horse

 

Green lights cling to the last flicking sparks of life,

Flashing a sickly hue over slick, empty street crossings.

Nothing feels real here, glass window panes warp with distortion,

Shop window mannequins scan for lost limbs in the darkness

And somehow, the air is soundless, even the wind escapes it.

These streets aren’t all real, you see, they conceal lethal secrets,

Find the line between the derelict and the pristine, then comes the reveal.

A wild west backdrop, a road runner tunnel, a matte painting,

A faintly unrealistic notion of humanity, meant to fool us, trap us.

Once bustling, these dark stretches of town became home to hunters,

Creatures which can replicate our worlds almost perfectly.

We wander blindly into shop doorways, down alleys, over crossings

And we are never seen again, our essence consumed by something far beyond us.

So many lost in this feeding frenzy, those lucky enough to flee retreated

And found refuge out in the wilderness, abandoning the urban sprawl.

For everyone else, the affliction spread, it came to our houses, to our rooms,

Swallowed up into darkness by our bathrooms, beds and wardrobes,

No longer able to differentiate between reality and the jaws of oblivion.

People we’d known and loved all our lives, transformed into anglerfish lures,

Guiding us deeper into a pit of blackness so thick it crushes bones to powder.

This is our apex predator, our balance, our enemy, our looming demise,

The slippery ledge that lost us our grip on this lonely, shrinking world.

Where did they come from? How long did it take them to become this way?

None of those questions mattered anymore, as we recoiled away from all we’d built,

And abandoned our legacy to ensure our survival, to preserve our stagnant remains.

Some wondered if, somehow, we had created these things, from guilt, from pain,

Or in our arrogance, we’d never seen them coming, despite all the warnings.

The streets hang open, and hang silent, soon nature will restore itself, but not for us.

Weekly Poem #191

Idle

 

Nobody knows what to do with their hands,

You see it every day, the way they wander, aimless.

Curled around a handrail, tightly clasping a phone case,

Scuttling up and down a handbag strap, concealed in a pocket

Or just together, embracing, unable to uncouple.

On the train, on the bus, struggling for an occupation

Before being turned to keyboard, notepad and lever.

They worry themselves, scratching at noses, picking at tear ducts,

Curving against the nape of a neck, or brushing a bearded chin,

But never still for long, never left to dangle without purpose,

All these billions of years, as the cells became more sophisticated,

Grew skin, bone, muscle, tendon and nerve, became more.

Gradually splayed out into claws, flippers, hooves and paws

Before the thumb bent outwards, and our signature weapon was assigned,

Our liberation, our means of transmitting language into history,

Our mutation, our elevation, our pride, our bane and our shame.

You’d have thought that by now we’d know what to do with them

In those moments between tasks, those idle intermissions,

But still we fidget, we fret and we fiddle, as our hands beg for purpose.

Itchy trigger fingers, tingling palms and twitching thumbs,

Longing for a solid surface to grip, or a soul to squeeze.

Work, craft, sex, murder, shame, love, strength, soul, and after all that,

Nobody knows what to do with their hands.

Weekly Poem #156

Snail Trails

The air sits, nakedly cutting through mechanical silence,
Permeated by birdsong and fluttering, liberated leaves.
The green ground, rifted with concrete intervals
And strewn with discarded newspapers, evidence of attempted serenity.
Even here, in places reserved for nature, our snail trails linger,
Like the dirt upturned by our dragging, cluttered shells,
Or the scuffs marks where our feet scramble as we fend off the thrushes.
In all places our weight upsets the balance, like a lazy rainfall,
Droplets thick like treacle and determined not to politely wash away.
This is our legacy, our harsh, angular signature.
We leave discarded imprints wherever we roam,
And refuse to clean up after ourselves, as if we’re waiting,
Or even inviting some force superior to whisp it all away.
And us with it.

Weekly Poem #152

Muntjacs and Magpies

 

Aesop’s human got his stripes

By painting over the shadows

Drawn by a barbed wire fence.

It’s a fence we built and raised

To stand between ourselves and nature.

 

While the muntjac lazily grazes,

Magpies hop into her perimeter,

Before perching on her back

To diligently pick off parasites

And she takes no notice, serenely obliging.

 

Such symbiosis is beyond our reach,

We constricted that fence with long fuses

And blew it into smithereens,

Taking only our pets and tortured livestock

To languish with us, and stare back towards no man’s land.

 

Nature is foreign to us now,

We characterise it as a thing separate,

A thing that we observe, exploit, and pity.

But it’s more powerful than we can ever be,

And on our current trajectory, it will abandon us.

 

 

Life relies on balance to continue,

It doesn’t need to understand that,

But somehow, along the way, we forgot.

The muntjac flees fearful, the magpies too,

Our mark spells danger to them, they live in our margins.

 

We’re the entitled appropriator,

The spoilt brat of nature’s brood,

The cuckoo that placed itself in the nest.

We find comfort in our own constructs

Because we can no longer exist outside of them.

Weekly Poem #108

Steelworks

 

Dead metal is more alive than us,

Rust is a pulse, it’s a chemical reaction.

The old skeletons of early industry

Will tell stories that haunt and harrow.

 

When the canvasses and carcasses

Are rolled away like rotting astroturf

Only steel, iron and copper will remain.

It will map legacies, it will trap souls.

 

Take a walking tour of a movie set

Touted as a city and have a closer look.

The glass panels and paving slabs

That will not survive a strong tide.

 

There’s an attraction in desolation,

An alluring romance to a long-dead landscape

Where we once ruled, but eroded away.

A camouflaged courtyard where gazelles graze.

 

Why are we so obsessed with our end?

Our lingering departure into otherness?

We see a frail, despairing footprint ahead,

But this Earth will be beautiful after us.

 

Picture industrial districts alive with lichen,

Panthers stalking between storage units

And the climbers claiming waning streetlamps.

Picture what we can never achieve.

 

What legacy do you want to leave behind?

No pharaoh will ever outlast the Nile.

No blade can carve a curve in time,

So take a step back, smile and exhale.

 

Weekly Poem #91

The Immortal

 

Perhaps I’ll jump off a cliff today,

Or face down a colossal, crashing wave.

I could start writing my next symphony

Or compare my lines with the bristlecone pine trees.

I could just walk for another few decades,

Perhaps from Xi’an to San Tropez,

Or across the Himalayas to a visit the elders

And teach them how to predict the weather.

I guess I could shoot myself again,

But the bullet would crumble, break or bend.

I can’t get sick or succumb to starvation,

I’ve lived lifetimes across all the nations,

I’ve all the shades you have to offer

And it’s getting too much, I’ve filled the coffers.

Perhaps I’ll build myself a rocket

And sail to some distant, unknown pocket

Of a wider universe that’s full of hope,

Full of silence, serenity, breadth and scope.

Or perhaps I’ll just find myself a volcano

And return to the middle, a rejected payload.

Weekly Poem #76

The Dragon’s Mouth

A sea that chokes
A land that roles
A fire that’s still
A harsher pole

It shifts and slides
It cooks and kills
Life must be hard
To bear its ills

The hardest stones
Long crushed to powder
Unfriendly life
More spikes than flowers

No man feels welcome
In this harsh world
It swallows you up
All bones and pearls

No species is perfect
For every terrain
We weren’t meant for here
It’s not our domain

Weekly Poem #59

Three Roses

Some angular white-haired sapling
Lets the ocean clutch at her ankles.
The waves are patient, slowly lapping
And the breeze is gentle, thankful.

A thinly wrapped gift to Mother Nature,
With her back to gestures of mankind.
Three roses spelling longing pleasure
That she fully intends to leave behind.

The painted arches of her human past
Are eaten away by the smiling sun.
Her cells spread out with salt and grass
And her walking, waking days are done.

Weekly Poem #41

Debris

 

The world not will end with sheet metal

It will not end with burlap and round-head bolts,

Butane and bactrian brains coming to bigger blows.

The pride and prowess of our sacred scaffolds

Reduced to all the sanctity of a scattered lego set.

 

The world will not end with cannon fire,

Greek pyres or the mongers of war’s desires.

There will be no dedication to self-belief and deception

Or relegation to primal fears and lethal penetrations.

No fight, flight or fury can account for a cost so great.

 

The world will not end with anger.

No retrospective resentment or resplendent arrogance

Will shine the sheen on the choking cloud that does us in.

No sooth-sayer of misanthropy will lead the charge in a post-mortem suicide

That spans worldwide and allow us to be beautifully vilified on the final night.

 

The world will not with us.

 

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