The Spaced Land (5)

Stephen Livesey Ashworth


– Waking suddenly – from an anxious dream
– I feel heavy yet charged with absurdity
– Unzipped voices – pissing street echoes
– In the distance an unquiet taxi.
– Through the curtains – leaden overcoat
Shields the town from the sight of the infinite.
– I don’t fancy this – sky blanket.
– When I can’t see the stars I feel trapped
– Like a sleeper – in a wooden box
– Like a passenger – in an airliner
Seized by a pox of religious fanatics.
– Does this world have a heavenly future?
– Can the birth of a new kind of species
Jump through the hoops of burning uncertainties?
– Calculus versus biblical stories?
War versus poverty, eco-catastrophe,
Big-time corruption, terror and greed?
Switch on the news – I will show you
Fear in a lungful of waste CO2.
My hair’s going grey, I begin to feel old
– This planet wears down my spirit,
Sits on my shoulders like a coat of depleted
Uranium chains with concrete attachments.
Money slips out through the hole in my universe
Faster than in, and – as for love,
I might as well live on the ice-plains of Pluto
As hope here to conjure the magic of sex
– Tender eyes, a sweet sense of other,
Two halves become one – then a trinity,
Only in fantasy – such relationships.
– Broken liner remains on the bottom
– Golden city, submerged for ever
Among dreams of dreams and memories of memories.
– Has it all in the end been for nothing?
– After hunger and anger and guilt?
After extremes of endurance and suffering
– To provide that this house shall be built?
– Is there then no redemption at all?
– Must life in the cosmos grow only
So far as to contemplate its final fall?
– I’ll return to the astral dimension,
Put off humanity, wander for ever
A lonely observer of worlds in suspension.
– Quick! the moment of freedom is now!
Pale immortality – beckons to me
– I reject this whirlpool of change
– Futile struggle for plans unachievable
– Creaking bones, eyes losing focus,
Dysfunction, disorder, disillusion inevitable.
Voices grow misty in widening distances,
Friends find a moment to tiptoe away
As they’re eaten alive by the locusts of age,
Soon will be my turn unless I escape.
– Yet I hesitate – at the astral gate,
I’ll never find a world like this again.
What do they work for if there is no hope here?
Why do they suffer if all is in vain?
What is this busy Hive they have created?
And how might it set future progress in train?
How did they feel at the end of a war
When princes and arch-dukes were exiled abroad?
When hooded hordes swarmed to the call of revolution?
– Yet the world survived – and the next
Generation but one had it better than anyone
Living ever before.
Oh, see how the lilacs are coming in bloom!
Think of their roots, which once knew the dinosaurs;
Such pretty flowers, which know how to face towards
Hope we sophisticates have almost forgotten.
– It’s too easy to hold up the book
Of one’s life so close to the eyes that one loses
The view of the library shelves, and the stack,
And the archives – and the list of the next
Forthcoming attractions that might make more sense
Of one’s own rather lonely and obscure text.
I bought a telescope the other day.
That night I sat and bathed my restless eye
In the Moon’s nocturnal yellow ray ...
I think I’ll stay.


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