Slide – a poem about despair

This poem was inspired by Mike Nelson’s ‘The Asset Strippers’ installation at the Tate Britain, (some pictures of which I have included below), some glass buildings on the South Bank of the Thames by Vauxhall Bridge, and the general state of things around us.


Great, great grandad hopelessly alone

Smashing up seeds with bits of stone

Worn teeth chewing the tasty insides

In the cave where through the night he hides


Now an army seven billion strong

Encroaching on places we don’t belong

Ever improving at sucking things dry

Piling up debts as the years roll by


Failing to learn from mistakes of the past

We shun institutions created to last

Instead of standing together as friends

We split into factions to serve our own ends


We enjoy our dominion and live without fear

Greet warmer summers with a thunderous cheer

In hock to the air and the ground that we walk,

To the animals we slaughter for beef and for pork


Out of the Earth, we’ve ripped what we could

To fashion machines from iron and wood

Ever more complex, wondrous devices

For which our world pays such terrible prices


Filled halls with artworks; songs in the air

Rich poetry; sculptures hewn with such care

Inspiration abounds from nature’s great beauty

Yet we plunder and burn, abandoning duty


Great, glass buildings piercing the sky

So we can reach up and look God in the eye

But for each storey higher, there’s a hole dug beneath

That inches us closer to Lucifer’s teeth


Mother Earth scarred from pole to pole

And all that we’ve stolen has taken its toll

What do we offer to serve as our fee?

Not even as much as a solitary bee


Stuffing shopping cocooned in plastic packages

Into natural hemp bags to reduce the damages

Feeling so worthy for doing our bit

While our world slides inexorably into the pit


Thousands of hands reach through our touchscreen

As we stand like mannequins; oh so serene

Ingesting the news that’s been personally selected

After all of our posts have been carefully dissected


And present always in the corner of our eyes

Is the part we all share in this grand web of lies

The impact we make, we pretend we don’t see

In this I admit; the most guilty is me


Conveniently forgetting there’s worse fates than death

For the cows pumped for milk from birth to last breath

So on top of my Quorn burger, cheese I can pile

And look down on you all with self-satisfied smile


“Hey, look at me, World, I don’t eat meat!

But just let’s ignore the shoes on my feet.

The cruelty in life I so happily ignore

So today can be easier and I can have more”


Have we come too far now to make amends?

Do we drunkenly dance as the party ends?

Doing our bit is not nearly enough

As the storm grows bigger and the seas more rough


As hurricanes tear our buildings down

In the sea of our filth, we are destined to drown

We’ll rage and complain that the blame’s not ours

While the tide climbs the sides of our ivory towers


So, in the end, is there ought left to hope?

Or are we bagged and tied to the hangman’s rope?

Fingernails clinging to this spinning world

Before from her shelter we’re gratefully hurled


Great, great grandad, what did you know

Of the path down which all of us one day would go?

Would realisation have stayed your hand

Or was it always our fate to murder this land?


Hope still remains if you look for it well

At the end of the fight when we’ve heard the last bell

When humanity’s corpse on the canvas lies beat

This Earth will recover from all our conceit



Thanks for reading, I love you all for taking the time.

You can see some more of my poetry by clicking the links below. Try Climb first if you’re looking for something less bleak.


Climb – a poem for my son

The Scene Within – a poem

The Ovens are Cold – a poem

What the Haiku! – The Complete Collection

Haiku-ing at the National Gallery

Reversals of Fortune – two poems

8 thoughts on “Slide – a poem about despair

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