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July 15, 2017


The plates are shifting. Tremors cause the curs

To raise their heads and bark: no sounds emerge.

Each day is hotter – farmers heap their carts

With what they can and drag them past

The rotting bodies of their wives and sons.

Dictators we thought gone, return, no more undone

By light, than those whose fleshy hands direct

The giant machines to fall upon and shake

And topple mountains.

Governments on which

We were accustomed to depend unleash

Regimes of scarcity, the hospice door

Is barred, and patients roam the roads or crawl

Into a ditch alone, their muttered groans

Subsiding one by one, cadavers overgrown

With weeds. Those soldiers who’ve returned tell tales

In monotone of thankless killing; trails

Confined by restless shadows; plains traversed

In fear and silence; days of endless thirst.


Meanwhile our chiefs prepare new wars against

Ambitious nations. Freshly-minted states

Assemble moral hordes to re-invade

Their neighbours, whole societies implode

And bands of zealots desecrate the land

To desert sliced across by silver strands.


Each vote returns the day to dark. Each time

A man gives shelter to a friend he finds

Her dead at dawn. Each dressing we apply

Infects the wound, and balsam multiplies

The pain. Our psalms and prayers and countless acts

Of minor good stack up to no impact

At all against this almanac of stained

Abominations stalking our domain.


We’ve exhausted every path we knew to please

The gods. We can’t know where this journey leads.

But we do. It takes us from the citadel

Out through the gates, unquestionably to hell.

Each verse and chapter must be told again

From the beginning, merely to defer the end.


Shortlisted and published in the booklet of the 2017 music and poetry collaboration ‘Out of Place’

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