Literary Yard

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‘Back to the Future’ and other poems

By: Stephen Kingsnorth

Photo by Lisa Fotios on

Back to the Future

Return to churned, stick in the mud,
does it suggests drag, shamed retreat,
drawn by a magnet to what’s passed?

But is there loss as we’ve been rushed,
the compass needle out of true,
styled into shape of eroteme?

Move on apace from ghosts of past –
or re-tread where already been,
but what the Dickens have we, scene?

Assumption, progress, forward steps –
commissioned truth, repentance sign,
or lay to rest, irreconciled?

Are we prepared, the journey on,
or back to base, ensure supplies
are adequate, what lies ahead?

Wisdom, the best foundation stone;
set preference – recall Lot’s wife –
find pillars, not become as one?

That foot with arch, bridge either way,
but check soul, purpose, of the sole;
where, what is heading, compass point?



The frame is false, brown ground, blue sky,
horizon serving line across,
severe, all elements, divide,
two, earth and air, severe, apart,
with fire and water from above.

Deep aqua, both marine and fluff,
the woolly stuff, precipitate,
with silver line of mercury,
the cool of sunshades in the burn –
if only they would sweat a bit.

Here underground, part undermined,
the spread, one whole, with all around,
bare lava flow and hurricane,
by pyroclast, tornado wrench –
we need fog, mist, no mystery.

It is that cloak in overhang,
the shroud that binds, thought two, in one,
that is the hope of kinder view,
a panorama, portrait view,
that raises earth to skyfall, home.



Repentance, turning, set of mind,
not palms and fingers, lathered up,
nor pronouncement in the box,
even ‘sorry’, child caught out.

What’s soap and water, effective souls,
when systematic, inbuilt crime –
it was no single, simple man
who brought to skull one noted cross.

It was the mark, like ballot box,
shared by crowds who feared their loss,
a people, faith and way of life,
urged and threatened, change at cost.

It’s easy transfer, moral code,
if guilt is mine in isolate,
cheap grace converted, sole, alone,
another box ticked as all well.

But what of structures, power induced,
the well-greased pole of comfort wealth,
manipulation, our earth claimed,
air, fire, oceans washing away?

Yesterday’s sins are today’s crop,
the work of these hands, harvest time,
but winnowing will sort the chaff,
a judgement brought upon ourselves.

It is not God who fires the shots,
for she is living with the poor,
holding hands with refugees,
too heavy, dangling from the tree.



Can this be sandstone, name engraved,
the graveyard where geology
takes its toll before time wears,
where lichen clean means dust to dust,
eternal love but flakes away?
Whether a child or mother, spouse,
has long died under weather’s eye,
those storms erasing gone before,
a past that’s passed with curlicues.

Some died intestate, will unknown,
their t’s uncrossed nor dotted i’s,
but most had little to be left,
except that love they gave, received,
robbed now of name, relationship.
Building on sand in life, fruitless,
in death here slate wiped clean away –
mortality alone remains,
the record swept of age and span.


Stake the Claim

It may be true, our jewels found
in sentience, awareness sound,
yet sadly robbery abounds
for more minds drowned, as long lives crowned
with wounded synapse, brain attacked,
the sure ground, logic, undermined.

It is sage wisdom, come to terms,
that value known in who we are,
and we are moulded by our past –
provided genes but starter pack,
the taxed inheritance of birth –
while treasury, from mother’s knee.

Of all the curses of our age,
the zeitgeist which assaults our years
is threat of thinking losing edge,
the threads frayed, line cut, throughway sealed,
route connectivity astray,
the past let loose, unanchored roots.

So holdfast, value what we own,
against the day our claim seen null,
what we possessed, a lonely isle.
And stake the claim, nay, write it down,
that it may serve, if needed, prompt;
investment ’gainst a market crash.



Scattered lawns, with buttercups,
clover creeping through the blades,
but will we hear the cry when cut,
the moan when mown by spinning sharps,
pheromones that warn, in fear?
With phototrope, seek light with warmth,
fauna, flora raise their head
where daisies flourish in the chain
linked like necklace, bracelet gems,
why do we need their bed smooth, short?

Lines laid flat in parallel,
a pampas sheath for middle class,
from the ground up, tied in place,
untidy leaves swept from the worms.
Broadcast seeds kept strictly rows,
powders scattered from the box,
unkempt birds keep off the grass,
we spike with rotor, not by beaks.
So hear, our garden, nature’s gift,
packaged for suburban ware,
lepidoptera flutter by,
strangely silent, bees elsewhere.

Neat to be our servant plot,
croquet, clock golf, putting green,
moss dismissed and moles short shrift,
as would be hammock, with its swing.
Gin and tonic, terrace view,
what more could this green-fingered ask?

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