River’s End

Some nights, I can’t sleep
so, I go out walking
following the river
in my discomfort and anxiety
All too aware
of where we’re heading
winding towards that war
no one can win

I pass bonfires of guitars
funeral pyres of pianos
strings all snapped
Art must be rationed out, now
There’s a faded memory of a song
from long ago
that hopeless refrain, lilts
‘these are our final days’

The cities seethe, swollen and diseased
remnant governments siphon off our blood
all the schools are barracks
hospitals lick flames from every window
Kids wear shrapnel like fast-food crowns
landmines pop like party balloons
Lorries scurry the broken masses
from one smouldering ruin to the next

A hatred crackles between the people
the rusted blade edge of civilisation
I feel helpless and heartbroken
panic surging behind closed eyelids
As humanity divides
the two sides meeting twice
once in their compromise
and again at the extremes

The river rushes ever higher
the floodplain quickly vanishes
I mourn the poetry of seasons
the grave of tenderness is washed downstream
I meet a woman, burying her daughter
From an old matchbox, I offer her
the thin stem of withered hope, I nurture
she waters it with her tears

“These are, these truly are
our final days”

When we reach the river’s end
the night is at its darkest
just then a thousand suns light up
this fractured northern hemisphere

Waking in my bed
I realise my dream
But is all this hell
still yet to come…?

[2023]

Thanks for reading. Happy new year! Don’t have nightmares.

Published by

Tom Alexander

"Art is a lie that tells the truth"

8 thoughts on “River’s End”

  1. 2022 was the first time in my lifetime that I’ve genuinely felt the looming threat of nuclear war or attack. It has been playing at the back of mind throughout the year. It genuinely felt ‘inevitable’.

    This poem is based on an actual dream and one from which I was very relieved to wake up.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s