Winter Landscape

Winter´s eerie blue death-ray hath zapped the land beyond.
What were green trees six moons gone,
Are now just a mess of leaning, reaching sticks.
Like old men in ripped balaclavas and greasy mittens,
Reaching from a dismal doorway for scraps of loose change.

The land is the colour of frozen straw.
Only the low and heavy grey sky has a proper colour, with a proper name.
That, and the few green things left standing,
Too stupid to know they should be dead or dormant.
The lake ripples, murmuring incessantly, seeing and saying nothing.

"Ha-Ha" says bad Mr Sun,
Tearing holes, here and there, in the miserable clouds,
To drop a few shreds of ripped-up, screwed-up light,
On the wet and dirty, heat-starved land below.
Like shiny litter in the day´s black gutter.
The Sun is a chav today.
A stout English Lad who takes fierce pride in his incapacity for thought,
And the incorruptibility of his cheerfully held prejudices.

A few cows dawdle across the next field but one,
Mooch, munching at the ´hard as iron´ earth.
How do they do it? What possible sustenance can they get
From something already the colour of stomach-contents?

To be sure. Stupidity is a powerful force.
(As the cows would attest.)
Wise but irreverent men have even suggested
That the Universe itself is actually made from it.
While real scientists work on String Theory
I work, secretly, on my Stupidity Theory.
I postulate a quantum stupidity field,
Mediated by spin-1 gauge bosons, called stupidons,
Or just stupons for short.
Two quarks strange and a little charm.
Their role? Just to mess up all the sensible particles,
So none of them know whether they are
Coming or going, been or gone.
Thus I explain naughty Werner´s Uncertainty Principle,
And the need for nice Niels´ Copenhagen Interpretation.
I even have empirical evidence for these things.
I have found their decay products in my Insanitron.

"Fuck off" says the Sun, ripping open another poor cloud.
He´s shaved all his hair off and got a swastika tattooed on his forehead.
"Fuck off yourself" I reply, unable to resist his baiting.


He sticks the fierce, silver boot in,
And nuts me so hard my eyes go pop.
By the time I can see again he´s run off,
Back indoors, behind the clouds,
Where his mother, poor prozac´d Mrs Universe,
Stands at her night-black sink, doing infinite washing-up,
Oblivious to the crackling static on her radio.

The lake just keeps rippling, like a community care patient,
Pacing and mumbling at a disused bus-stop.
If she saw anything she won´t be saying.

Up a level.

"Well, let´s see. You´ve written a poem"?
"Would you not say it´s a tad bitter? A mite bleak"?
"Social Realism without the tough proletarian heart perhaps"?
"Inflected with a dour post-industrial cynicism even"?

I fidget awkwardly.

"I thought we had agreed, you were going to stop
Seeing the world in such nihilistic terms"?
"You were going to use poetry as a vehicle for the expression of loftier themes,
Such as Hope, or Beauty, or even Love? Most of all Love."

"I know, I know" I protested, defensive.
"But I don´t think you understand how hard that is, just how much you are asking".

"Oh, I understand alright" he said, with the trace memory of pain in his voice.
"I understand".

Copyright © John Ferngrove 2009