This poem was written maybe thirty to forty years ago, and yet it seems so relevant today.
Tell me that there is no symbolism in these events.
I see that the leaves on this ancient tree
Are but a season in age. And I see that
Ancient tongues no longer clack at youth.
Middle aged suburbia makes love in the streets,
And the tin cupped blind on each corner
Show no interest. They see more than the stream,
The stream of commercial and pleasure bent haste
That pulls at the banks of this dead heart,
This city of searching souls.The stream tears
At the crumbling façade of a dirty skeleton
And bears tradition downwards below the flood,
And crushes it below the surging surface.
Love is young, yet no one has time for youth.
Age is wise, yet we must spurn its teachings.
Age was once foolish in youth, and we have
No time for the desires and trappings,
No matter how faded, of that youth.
And the old ones walk in the park
That surrounds the museum.
They move through the dusty rooms
And show interest in the sign that reads,
PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH
And wonder why.
The students in the new system
Turn their backs on the generation that bore them,
And waste no time in conversation
With their mothers. They sit in darkened rooms
And pour cold coffee into their discussions.
Perverted sex is the rage and our society
Is perverted for a season. Homosexuality
Flowers for one cold Summer. And the fruit
Is sterile, dry and watered only by bitter tears.
Hot tears wet my pillow for a night,
Yet morning finds me red eyed and grey
With nothing but a half forgotten memory.
And the old men sit in Winter parks and
Tell each other that it was cold in ‘37
And the young ones are too soft with their easy life.
A dirty bandage bound around his head
Does not hide the worth of this old man
Who sits by himself on a cold corner.
He tells me that the Kaiser lives behind
The Sun with his German bitch.
And he knows when he meets a gennleman.
The bandage and the blood clotted hair do not hide
The worth of this old man. I leave him as I
Have left all bench sitters. And I notice
Yesterday’s paper clings hysterically
At his feeble legs also.
The ducks circle the island in the artificial lake
And shout welcome to each other. They look below
The surface for their food and do not notice
The broken excrement of civilisation.
They see no link between the shattered bottles
And the family outing of last Summer.
The floating paper plate is easily circumnavigated.
The water hen completes another circuit of the island.
Third floor; the flat at the top of the stairs.
The water in the sink gurgles half-heartedly
Down the drain.
She brushes her hair once more and removes
A small handful from the brush. This one would
Find waiting eased if she could set her mind
To read. Another comic book. Beauty hints.
The door bell. She wants to go out.
He wants to stay in the flat.
He leaves at eleven.
And says he’ll call. You know where it is.
Third floor. Flat at the top of the stairs.
Finished. She removes a spot from the skirt of her dress.
No one walks behind the theatre any more.
The grass has grown between the deckchairs.
Even the children play elsewhere.
They say that half the future generation
Of this part is conceived in the projection box.
Yet Mrs Atkins told a friend, only last week,
That her Shirley wouldn’t hold anything from her;
And Mrs Atkins always was respectable herself.