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Poem for today by Thomas McColl

Arts Richmond

Online - 29 May 2020

Poem for today by Thomas McColl


The council is yet to cut back
the branches of the trees on Newman Road,
which means that, halfway through
my journey to work on the bus –
and always just as I fall asleep
in my usual seat on the upper deck,
with my hooded head at rest against the glass –
the low-hanging branches attack me in the dream I’m having.
And I’m caught out every time for I’m always so tired –
and, in any event, I guess I’m helpless,
being one of those hundreds of thousands of people
always letting themselves be eaten and then spewed out
by any one of hundreds of number-branded hairless bison
that charge across the city in all directions every day.

We are all living lives more and more unnatural,
and in this messed-up world,
where buses are bison and people are grass,
it’s no longer shocking to find
that glass is air and branches are blades.

At any rate, what happens each time is that
the jutting branches the bison headbutts
immediately return to wreak revenge
and, on giving my window the coarsest caress,
invade the dream I’m having
like they’re the bladed fingers of Freddie Krueger,
scoring my brain,
and in shock – but just in time – I wake up,
my brain unbloodied but my mind unhinged.

Today is no exception:
I’m violently awoken
but, this time round, just after it’s happened,
and I glance at the section of window
where my head’s been resting,
I notice a message etched in the glass –
We’re gonna take the city back –
which, in the past, I’d have automatically assumed
was done by some school kid,
by locker key or compass from his pencil case,
but now – as the bus passes the derelict factory on Leonard Street,
and I can see that, already, poking through the smashed windows
are branches of small trees – I’m no longer quite so sure.

by Thomas McColl


Taken from Thomas's new book, Grenade Genie has just been published by Fly on the Wall Press this poem is about how futile it is for humans to think they can tame nature.  Review available on the Mark Aspen Review site.

The image, taken by the poet, shows the view, through his window, of the branches of a felled tree, which did brush against the pane.



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