Their firebright words lit up the air
In rhythmic reds and rhyming blues.
Unseen, he smiled to sit here where
He'd struck the match that lit the fuse.
After Philip Larkin
The mower conked out. On close inspection, I found
That it had just run out of petrol. Having refilled
With a funnel, I pumped the choke three times
As per the instructions. It started first time
And I was back underway, circumnavigating
Tree trunks, dodging daffodils past their prime.
I didn’t even see a hedgehog, let alone
Kill one. But then I’m not so busy writing poems
That I let the grass grow two feet high.
I may not be a poet. But at least I can mow a lawn
Without slaughtering the wildlife.
Inspired by a trip to Wenlock Priory
Hard to believe every city had one
Once, a hospital like this. (Medicine
Was considered valuable back then.)
Hospitals inspired awe, devotion.
Take a long look at these old foundations
Worn smooth by centuries of erosion.
This building served a huge population
Who thought it the best place to get well in.
These crumbling walls contained things they called ‘wards’
For the ill - or ‘patients’ - as you may have heard
Them referred to. Now it seems quite absurd
That we’d give such care, let alone afford
The vast expanse. They were such wasteful times
Back then. Buildings of this enormous size
Cost a fortune. Debts rose, interest declined.
These monsters were bleeding the country dry.
People no longer sought medical help,
Ignored the outdated doctrines of health
And turned instead to the Cult of the Self:
What else matters, if you’ve still got your wealth?
Finally, they were all shut down by law
And now they just sit here for us to explore.
And children wonder, “Well, what were they for?”
Since nobody sickens or dies anymore.