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.