In our nature
and a dream
of a future.
Shared dreams, like ghosts, are
in our nature.
dark trees, sometimes, lost in sleep.
We plant bright trees and rebuild a
failed city. It’s then we glimpse the ghosts
the last forests still keep. Who they are and
what they tell is beyond all pity: they’re souls
from razed woods and our children’s children after death.
Tidy up the scene
Frank is telling me – “The feds are on the move,
It’s a black kid so they’ve no time to lose.
They shoot the man in his car.
Another wet-wiped local star.
The cops get their stories straight --
it’s not too late
to practice what they’re meant to mean
and tidy up the scene.”
Frank is telling me – “The judges could not lose.
It’s politics so they call it stealing shoes.
Attacking shopping’s a protest too far,
the trainer’s sacred, so’s the bra.
Retail’s endangered, unique.
Justice slurs when it starts to speak:
jail the poor to keep the righteous clean,
tidy up the scene.”
Frank is telling me – “Half the country’s on my tail,
the TV and the holy Mail –
just for the colour of my ‘tan’.
England doesn’t need the Klan:
when your skin can’t be trusted
your future’s done-and-dusted.
It’s ‘empathy’ and arm-lock, phone the Condolences Team,
tidy up the scene.”
Frank says softly – “Don’t listen to what I’m saying –
look at the boys here playing,
thinking up a new world with laughs and Lego,
colour and creation from the chaos at the get-go.
They both start in the same circumstances –
you know the difference in their likely life chances.”
Then he calls to my boy and his Dean,
gentle, like he’s lost all spleen,
subtle, like there’s more he wants to mean
(he makes me think I’m down there with the toys).
“Clear up now, boys! –
No order, no ice cream!
Tidy up the scene.”
Richard Price is a Scottish poet, born in 1966, who writes about modern relationships and modern families. In the words of the poet Peter McCarey his poetry “goes to work on all the major events of our small lives”. Carol Rumens adds: “Richard Price’s poetry is inventive, sometimes dazzling, but never merely showy. I first came to Price’s poetry with the publication of Lucky Day (2005) and every subsequent book has delivered fresh weather. He threads the political into the personal when he writes love poetry, and his intensely felt lyricism is sinewy with warning." His collection Small World won the Creative Scotland SMIT Award in 2016. He is Head of Contemporary British Collections at the British Library.