V.86

There is a gradient. The sky
moves from polluted red through pale
to black. And orange flashes as
the tractor trails wheat dust. The road

merges off the circular path,
intentions are coded in light.
Industrial farming machines
don’t fit through the old town crossing

and crunch the box off the lamppost.
In the streams of thick logistics
molecules are reshaped en masse,
and fly into the gradient –

the dark leans over the ripped grass
like a pervert, waiting to glance
the raw dirt and turn it to dust
to fall onto the road and sink

in the torrents of the moist air
gradient down to the river.
A car is shifted by the flood
and sits at the car park entrance.

Gradient of dystopia,
this passing through the osmotic
barrier of roads, where wheat dust
bounces, falls and scatters like bone

Elegy Written on the National Express

i

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.

ii

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.

iii

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.