and gain a modicum of credibility from originating with the writer.
So here goes with some more old poems.
After a month of night, a reddish moon
Illuminates a new world, smoothes
The slivers of metal, softens the swathes
Of jagged concrete to
A pebble beach. The clumps of bodies become
A silvered sleeping army of dancing elves.
Nothing human moves,
But deep rats scrabble towards the surface
In the wounded rivers
Dragonfly larvae wait, and where the great trees stood
Fern spores survive. There will be
Tomorrow the relentless sun will rise.
This is a science fiction sort of poem. It imagines the world just after a great disaster, probably human-made, has wiped out humanity and most other life forms – but not all. It has been dark for a month because of vapours and debris but now a degree of light is returning and we (whoever we are) can see what has happened. The surviving living things are stirring. “Tomorrow the relentless sun will rise” – evolution will continue and perhaps there will be another intelligent species to take our place (and bring disaster?). The rising of the sun is relentless – and whether that is a statement of hope or of despair, the poem does not say.
Through tussocked field, in winter waterlogged
Scrawled over with briar, the bank, like broken road
Between two towns now dead, reaches the shore.
Then as a gravelled hump, a fossil arm, breaks mud
Struggling with tide and frost; and then a scatter
Of blackened spars point out across the channel.
This thing was an ambition, a conversation
Of land with sea, England maybe with Holland,
A pier for fishing smack and pleasure party
Somewhere for a tired man to walk
The bank, to carry excited trains or vacant
Falling into a gradual decline
Hardly noticed thirty miles away
Then broken in war by men who knew it well
To stop an enemy blown up, and on the stump
Strong lights and anti-aircraft guns conducted
A different conversation of the worlds.
The waft-winged harrier now suddenly
Swivels for urgent pipits, a vagrant bunting
Flushed by a rushing dog whose reddening master
Stumbles angrily calling
The salt sea
Still laps the land
Lulls its lost senses, shifts the empty shells.
Tollesbury is a coastal village in Essex on the East coast of England. Today there are only a few clues which tell of the railway and pier. Now Tollesbury village is no longer on a railway, but then it was and the line extended out from the village over marshland to the pier. The original ideas was for the pier to be used by large ships from across the North Sea, but that never happened. Instead it was used by pleasure boats and fishing boats and by pedestrians on a day out. By the time of the Second World War the line had closed. The pier was then blown up to stop it being used by German raiders or invaders and on what was left anti-aircraft guns were positioned (“a different conversation of the worlds”). A few wooden stumps still indicate where the pier was and the raised bank used by the railway (“the bank, like broken road”) is still evident.
A harrier is a type of bird of prey sometimes found in such marshy coastal places (two species might occur here). Pipits and buntings are smaller birds which might be hunted by a harrier.
I used to write a lot of poems about particular places, but now I generally see this as too forced and wait for the places to work on me unconsciously. This is an exception. I’m attracted by the sense of history about the place and by it being a meeting-place of sea and land.
Copyright Simon Banks 2012