Shaun Belcher Poems 2002-22

Category: Green Politics

FOSSILS

The playgrounds were strewn with ash
Smoke still billowed from the underpass
Further out in the estuary steam rose
From the tanker now beached and rusting

Lights now only flickered around the estate
On every other day to conserve energy
Milk floats converted to run on steam
Carried bodies of those who froze

Up the icy streets to the crematorium
The one place left they still used gas
The old cylinder gas tanks long since
Deflated like punctured balloons

Horses and cattle roamed the empty fields
Looking for their owners and a bale of hay
But the engines that brought them
Had long since died and started to rust away

No-one now could remember how it started
One day there were fires everywhere
The pylons buzzed in the rain
Then it stopped, silent roads, empty skies

Hands scratching for fuel kept finding
Impressions of leaves and insects in the coal
For a while the neighbours chopped down trees
Built holes in their eco-house rooves

To let the newly built fire-places let out smoke
then the hard winter stopped that
By spring there was no firewood to be had
All the oil and gas had burnt out long ago

Slowly the bones started to appear
Bodies lying in the fields slowly
fading back into the chalky soil
Row upon row of chalky fossils.

New Poems: The Moon Turned Dark

Moon Turned Dark

June 1783 a balloon of hot air made of paper is launched
then a test of silk and hydrogen that travels 15 miles before crashing
into the minds of two peasants who attack the monster
despite the authorities appeal not to be scared of these globes
‘which resemble the moon turned dark’

Next a sheep, a cockerel, a duck are swung into orbit like Laika
Tethered to another hydrogen sphere to test the air at altitude
They survive crashing back to earth and are examined by Pilatre de Rozier
Who in October 1783 becomes the first man to leave the earth
The blue and gold balloon rising in a shower of burning straw

The 7th January 1785 and Blanchard and Jefferies attempt the first sea crossing
leaving Dover they head for Calais rising and falling dangerously
all weighty objects jettisoned they finally threw their clothes into the sea
and make landfall at Blanc-Nez where Blanchard throws letters into the wind
the final weight they let go are bladders containing their own urine

13th June 1784 and Pilatre attempts a sea crossing in the opposite direction
twenty-seven minutes later it is seen drifting back over land
the two aeronauts observed frantically trying to keep the vessel aloft
The hydrogen ignites sending the two men to their deaths
Pilatre leaves behind the first matches, gas masks and a museum of science

The means to start fires, protect and survive and a mausoleum of ideas.

13th June 2021 fires burn bright in the woods near Calais at night
Sea crossings are planned and wind and sea watched for calmer nights
Eyes turn upwards at the leviathans in the channel the monsters in the air
Some cross easily others fall to earth or drift on currents back to land
The best nights are those when the moon turns dark and the fires are out

We test the limits of our survival from Paris to Mars, seek safe harbour
But the straw burning under our feet both lifts us and destroys our world.
Under the blue and gold backdrop of the live television pictures two men
Dump what they can into the sea, pray that the fires will keep them afloat
But can see the moon turned dark, the sea turned black, the world on fire.

A sheep, a cockerel, a duck
Float on across the burnt forests, the flooded fields, drowning in hot air.


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