Saturday, 1 November 2014

I had too much to dream last night...

Dreams. I blame it all on those electric prunes! I walked off with the Mercury Prize for Music and Blackpool FC won the Champions' League - again; flying was as easy as stepping off the top of a tall building and universal Peace & Love engulfed our pretty planet. It wasn't always thus.

As a young boy back in the early '60s I was aware of the impending sense of doom triggered by the Cuba missile crisis. There was one frightening week-end in October 1962 when everyone thought that nuclear war was inevitable. Fortunately, the super-powers pulled back from the brink on the eve of destruction and I was able to finish reading Neville Shute's On The Beach - but I still remember a nightmare I had at the time. It was so vivid that it's remained fresh in memory for half a century and I've tried to capture its essence in this week's poem.

By the way, if you've not encountered Michael Dobbs' brilliant investigative analysis of the Cuba missile crisis, One Minute To Midnight [Random House, 2009], the truth is more gripping than many a work of fiction.

On The Beach  
Slow-motion quiet seemed to hang upon us all,
the lull before the storm…
then everyone was running
with silent screams and panic in their eyes
as a thousand sun-like beachballs
came burning through the skies
and hissed into the sea.
I knew it was a dream
and tried to wake
but, failing, I dreamt on.
Down on the sand,
part of a crowd but quite alone,
I headed for the shore
not knowing where to go or why.
The pillars of the pier were black;
we huddled inbetwixt in trembling shock,
clustered, sorry figures
at the farthest margin of the land.
Cloaked in a creeping, choking, caustic mist,
we stood entrapped in blank despair:
behind, an endless stream of stumbling bodies
jostled to the shore;
before, the poisoned tide relentlessly rolled in,
while overhead flew frenzied seagulls
screeching ‘nevermore’.

Thanks for reading. I wish you a good week-end. S


Damp incendiary device said...

Plagiarizing seagulls!

I love this poem Steve. It makes me want to read some apocalyptic fiction.

My favourite bit:

a thousand sun-like beachballs
came burning through the skies