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Battery Acid Earth

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a Tŷ Newydd writing course. Tŷ Newydd is the National Writers’ Centre for Wales, and I had an amazing week learning more about creative writing. I wrote this poem with help from the brilliant poet Paul Henry.

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Battery Acid Earth

This scraped-together city, this salvage.
Encircled by rubble walls,
slices of glass and bits of brick and splintered wood.
Streets and sidestreets
entwined like a tangle of wires.

Hollow buildings
gripped between black-fingered burns.

Bare bulbs lashed to metal masts,
shafts of bleached-out light
swarming with dust
glancing off corrugated iron.

Canvas roofs
stretched out like sails,
the empty sky cut across
by electrical cables.

The sprawling river
splitting the city in two,
a burnt-out bus for a bridge.

The constant rasp of the generator,
coughing out bitter smoke.

The tin can tree
stripped of its leaves.

I watch as they flutter to the earth
like the charred feathers of an angel.

I do not stay for long.
Tin cans dangle from strings
on its branches,
clatter in the wind.


1 Michael | on 31 October 2013

This is incredible, I love the sparse, almost post-apocalyptic imagery, the sense of melancholic romance for a forgotten, abandoned place, the ghosts of memories…the degradation. You evoke it beautifully, it’s a place I could go to in times of loss, to think about change, atrophy and the future of any city. a ‘scraped-together city’/ ‘bleached-out light’ / ‘a burnt-out bus for a bridge’ / ‘charred feathers of an angel’ are the stand out lines for me but they are so good because of the quality of the poem as a whole, the whole landscape is just vividly so good. Keep writing.

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