by Tom Chivers

that surface glare & dazzle
is what we want to make of it

for who would keep a rotting heart
inside a cardboard box:

what is falling apart, breaking away
beneath a crust of pale gold.

I’m sorry, we have already melted down
the family relics for this quick fix

insisting that the ship will right
that has fallen by the way.

after the great lithium dump
it was felt we might try to conserve.

we hoarded palm oil and salt
like the emperors of days gone by

till they too dwindled
and were extinguished.

for a time peat was all the rage:
we dredged the edgelands.

we dug for it in gardens and derelict pools
in the relict pingo beneath the Rockingham Estate.

speculation flourished: they were speculating
here and they were speculating there

and whilst our bairns mudlarked for guano
there was a run on sugar water.

when the peat dried up
we traded ice & nickel,

rummaged the ruined citadels of Asia Minor.
we stole the birdsong for klaxons.

we led great terraformers across the steppes,
broke the permafrost above the cities

with diggers tipped with carbide
scavenged from the front.

when stocks ran low
we entered the mangroves at dusk,

trapped the spectacled caiman in his lair
and sucked his eyes for juju beans.

we lay, deflated, in wrecked workshops:
for all had come to pass that had been foretold.

inside it’s all glitter
& white rabbits

& everything crackles
with the radio static of moving forces:

unseen iceflows so blue
you’d think the sky had poured herself in.

this is architecture
& it’s on the move, son.

you’re going to have to live with that.

Last updated October 27, 2022