The Tree says “Down! – thee
seeds and sapling usurpers
“I am the root and I the purpose
“Know my bark, it keeps me strong.”
And murders them with shadows long.
The saplings and the seeds chant –
“Up! – up the republic of growth
“Of varied ideas, and new things here below
“Until the wood is filled with variety
“Old bark can stay – but we’ll have our society.”
The forest is filled with kinds of desire
But all must drink – and bathe in the sun
The far spread shadows are death to some
“Until the dark dawn of some great forest fire”
Some hope to spark, to get underway
The falling, the ashes, it tends to gestate
Grand ideas of a sunlit glade
Though dappled light seems the best some can await –
Born as they are with stunted branch
Or lack of structured niche or dance
They tend to fall back on the law of the light –
that when shadow is cast, those in shadow must fight.
Either starving dark amongst the shoots
Or taking as model the climbing vine
Or cutting the old bark down to size
Or grouping and starving the heartless old roots
To scatter light out from the leaves of the few.
To the rusted coach, hurling through country
the misted landscape shows itself brightly –
smoke silhouettes and industrial edifice
rest in the view, as rubble in grey dirt.
Awake but precarious, I’m whimmed by the heat
and I wore too much crap, brought too much ephemera
rummaging for a pen, in notice of others
whose christian voices, here and there pray.
The whispering waving of torque and hot rubber
the passing on centre and passing on right.
The carriage rolls hungry, wafting on the road
in the air of the country, musty and cold.
The air conditioner breathes, occasionally coughing
in this rhythmic trance, the traveller’s loan,
which purchases the journey, cheap.
In the coach, dull head and hot at the feet;
a clash of environments, splitting the cabin
and the swinging spindles of a needle thin turbine
obscured by the copses that spatter the land.
Miniaturised trees, from the fog’s deep gradient,
resting on the morning, and hewn dirt roads
(the trace of the coming expansion) flow outwards
pre-empted by pylons, ancient statues
whose rest in the desert, long after we’ve gone:
Buffeted by cold wind and frost in the nighttime
snow slowly erasing the web of old tarmac
pitch-dark and frozen, but the national anthem
plays still over the land, a deathless anthem
turning the fascist strata, and rousing
the fragments of newspaper to stand.
In the fast fading coach, windows sullied,
shadow eats the occupied roads of the world.
Ambience change brings me reeling, threatened
from dystopian daydreams, to Motor Way One.
The unending chance-driven swerve of the chassis
rends me and jolts in my head and my stomach
and lightly the inevitable sickness sets in,
waiting for the portent’s rain to begin.
Mechanical reproduction’s music marks
the passing of time; it’s all that does
despite the rolling windows, falling country
whose homogeneous peeling marks the whole…
Drowsing in the sullen surge I wait
and London waits for me, churning,
the City dark with mould.