A28 and Surrounds
When hunched in truck cabs, teamed roofers
Belt around beltways, lace the skirts of
An ex-dissenting land, now neutered;
Determined that, "Long hours make you worse off."
In bold font they bear the legend
"Pride's Roofs" and strafe the roads
For a catch, cross the lines on the bend,
Solid ways that knot antique abodes.
The old proper mining towns give way to saplings on new estates;
Engines rumbling around the debacle
Of a premature Xmas Tree topped off with sparkles.
"Oven-Ready Game" and a dialling code signal the brink of the A-road;
From there we bear upon hedgerows
And car showrooms in battle-mode.
The English road is a known beast,
Neither pretty nor wild, nor dangerous either.
Arteries of commerce, from most to least
Pumping seaward on sodden tyres.
Best snapped as a still-life panorama,
Its roads are its class cross-stitchings,
Catch picture-window dramas
And at bus stops a world of vulgar etchings.
There are places where, because there are roads, nobody walks;
Where, sans-papier, in our quarries of chalk
Turned to bungalow havens, the remainders labour
Or wait. Where unremembered pathways
Cut away and between the motiveless brush
Laid over by dozing chestnuts, unseen in the evening rush.
Time is on its knees
The town clambers up and on its tail brings
The wrestling waves of a disarrayed sea;
Swapping between Archer's and harder things
Heavy-scent teens wait at slot machines.
Time dusts about in tinkling arcades,
Tickling the dust-flayed men with their coats
No more, no more to sow their wild oats
With women of indiscernible age.
We leave a wardrobe of pine cones to dry
On the lime green expanse of a dish cloth;
An assemblage of autumn, piled to remind
It's change to which love's hat is doffed.
Changed to warmed age; browning pines peel their limbs
Out wide and nestle at the boiler's feet.
A young man, pizza in hand, awaits a receipt,
As we trundle past the cats at their bins.
The land is tested; all the skirmishes
Of a Catholic wind: relentless; deft at sin;
Cutting the wheat from our shivering chaff,
Heads hang wherever it's evangelizing.
Divided between meek or horny hearth,
Slick with iron sediment, the heath-shallows
Maintain in dolorous October tones
The peat bogs that will inherit the earth.
If Prague is, despite the communism,
A city of jazz, Royal Tunbridge Wells
Has never pandered to any -ism
Nor any music either very well.
We trot gamely round its spangled Pantiles
The boutiques with a grimace of fashion;
And the bespectacled of earnest dispassion
Cup cures for veins they dislike and their piles.
Half-deceased, a perished world drifts by,
Remembered not from sandy childhood
But our life's later and more cunning lie,
Deceived in Kentish depths or Sussex woods.
Erosion is for rocks the embrace of time:
We watch their heads in settling lips of fog,
Our hoarse wheels spitting on the sod,
And gathering pockmarks on bony lime.
When we get home you'll string a garland up
Made from your time-kissed pine cones and some beads
In this impermanent collection you'll
Keep in the time and see us through the freeze.
Nietzsche said, Joys all want eternities
He's right, to a degree; love wants time too,
But not from a fixed superior view:
Love would rather get it on its knees.