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WHEN I RETURNED
“entrenched and calcifying
class stratifications”
Gary Younge

when I returned
everything was crumbling
but not in that happy
melt-in-the-mouth sort of way

a land of
broken statues

historical memories
grown ever more painful
with each passing year

once this
machine worked

once it ran on ahead
outstripped the pack
at full steam

but now how bleak
how dour
cement coloured skies
divulging near toxic rain

that somehow, magically,
stays within official limits
and so no one gets sick
no
discernible ailments

and there the images
that once rejuvenated
reminded us of
the great musical hall and
other popular traditions
feeding into
the great Beatlesque
transformations of identity

anarchy in the late 70s
along those stone cobbled streets
where my grandad
returned from war with
dream of starting a family

chipped, cracked
whose face is that
did they ever see this Britain, this
England coming

not just rejuvenated, but
rising from the dead
(form an
all-star dead rock band
with John and Jimmy and George
and Mary and Percy
who wrote such blistering
odes in mode
of truth to power)

but now
not a whimper of
that poetry

cannot call it
a wasteland because it’s all
too hypothetical, digital and
completely plasticated

no memory of
what went blitz as it
streaked across
the channel

what went bang and

what Guy Fawkes cracker could

remove every stone, every blade
of grass
the name of every city

those names whose esteemed truth you cling to
when theIr failures shone brighter
than the brightest searchlight

why we
need the darkness

for their
power to grow
and grow

empirically, imperially, universally,
exponentially

until the
bubble burst

so fatally
expand

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