Aftermath

And on the day the sun rose in the west,
the wide-eyed ones were mustered in their masses
to tell the world to stay inside and look
no further than the line of tape, no longer
than it takes to fill the bath, look nowhere other
than down. Look or don’t look, we won’t stop you;
cold hands and cracked lips will make you turn
your head away. Avoid, avoid it all
like picking up the phone in lightning weather,
don’t come to us with swooping banners and yelling,
there is no time. Curse us unto the seventh generation
in every blood-born language if it helps, but
you will not go outside. It’s not forbidden,
it’s simply not an option any more.
Your house is now the only breathing home,
and that’s the same for everyone. Drag your
bodies itching to the windows, open them
and smell the ashy wind, remember how
you like your food in cans, and while you wonder
how scrambled eggs without the eggs will taste,
we will remind you of the burnt-out days
we have survived to be here now.
In all your minds a non-stop ‘last time on…’
starring stormish banners sweeping the streets
and bodies thickening under earthworm skies,
torn lips and cities bathed in ash, the mouths
on mouths of hooting non-survivors, bile
in fossil burbles frothing from cokey lungs,
seven years of thousandfold destructions
and iron languages unmake the land.
Look, friends, we are protecting you from this.

This poem was first published in The ISIS, Hilary 2016 (ed. Alexander Hartley and Ione Wells).

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