THE SHIPSTONE STAR
Red lead rain lashed to pink
hangs like a soviet star
on the left side of Nottingham’s tunic.
Always east facing, a towering symbol.
The dawn of a century personified, rusts
above a city of casual workers, bicycles
and the hard slogging dutiful dead
who fleck fields from the Rhone to the Rhine.
Never facing the river, that westward
leaches mud from peak and meadow.
The dried, limed stench of rutted tracks
lining the willow barks of Derby and Leicester.
Gables glossed white upon lace-curtained
suburban fuchsias, trimmed lawns and empty trailers.
Safety in numbers as the suburbs huddle
into its coat from Bramcote to Beeston.
Cattle slide into ditches, barges grind
at their moorings as floods flow on toward
dry fens gasping for this summer downpour.
The star remains firm, but tatty.
A remnant of a fading imperial industrial glory.
Cheap imports in containers trundle round the ring-road
headed for Poundland, Primark and Ikea.
We died for this, these rain-sodden shires
whisper the ghosts in the graveyards
as hooded boys on BMXs spin on street corners.
In a damp bedsit a shelf-stacker from Warsaw
lifts a Samurai Sword from the wall and mimes
the DVD still stuck on play on the monitor.
Star and blade flash for a second and are gone.
The storm lashes the window.
The Shipstone Star shines black on a white sky.