Saturday, 23 November 2019

End of the earth

The end is nigh, when not if
telescopes and microscopes and satellites are trained
tracking speed and heading
this way, nothing but dead sea between us,

The end draws near, the horizon draws closer
an inconvenient truth
a world on fire, flooded and poisoned
politics religion justice, all have failed us
as we have failed them all
consumption, corruption, pollution, accelerating
tipping points, critical loss, extinction,

So I ran, far away from civilisation
to the last place on earth,
from the east and the west the currents still sweep the debris away
virgin sands, crystal waters
blue glass curling and gently breaking
somewhere behind the sun-capped peaks
the world is warring, hastening its demise
hungry extraction, refined concentration, toxic obsolescence
landfill landscapes growing, glowing
while refugees hold out . . .
no dignity in poverty,
no dignity in riches,
no glorious empire,

Let the silk run through your hands
let the water tide-mark the contours of your body
see how the sun lifts everything in view
so beautiful, that sadness rises in balance
we will be overrun
an unstoppable wave pushes hard, barely retreating before surging again

How lucky we are to see paradise
how we feel we dreamt it all, just by looking away
wasn’t this Eden enough
could we not have stayed, it all
even Eden tells of taking more
of self and pride and greed
the seeds of its destruction.

I spent some time at the climate protests in October in London, and in the evenings I’d see an almost completely different protest in the media, from the view of the police, or the commuter, or the taxi driver, but rarely from the view of the protesters or the planet, which was not great. Boris laughing it off as uncooperative crusties when mostly it was the older middle aged, silver hair and walking boots, grandparents, parents, scientists and students, using their privilege where others couldn’t. I was proud of the police being there (although there seemed to be an excessive number) to protect the protests as well as break them down, and the freedom there was to take the lead that month. There was an immense feeling of positivity and togetherness and sense, for what needs to be done, and it has spread. But the power is with the powerful and they have other concerns. This poem was written in the pessimism that followed. I’m happy to be proved wrong.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Finest Hour

A local paper has a monthly poetry competion, hosted by someone who's supported our writing group in the past (and who once awarded me 2nd place in a poetry reading competition), and we thought we'd tackle next month's subject in one of our sessions. The title was 'My Finest Hour' and the only rule was no more than 20 lines. This was my entry, which I know didn't win but I've been promised a mention in the next edition.

There was one hour in my life
alive awake conscious
when I held back all my criticisms
of everything that had ever happened
and of everything I had ever done
of every person I hadn't liked
and even more of those I did,

that hour held a silent space
where critical thoughts shrank
in their own mirrored sight
the past and I no matter nor consequence
everything and everyone borne by their merits
not by origin, symmetry nor familiarity,

outwardly I truly listened
each consideration untethered from what had been
and inward I forgave each misstep
a divine shift towards empathy compassion and truth,
even to myself.

That rare hour maybe was my finest.