Death in the Suburbs by Adrian Henri

August 9, 2006

I am incapable of telling a good poem from a bad one, I just know which appeal to me. Here’s one that does.

the earth
moves
sudden
tiny snowstorms of cherryblossom
a black cat runs apprehensive
flocks of starlings
startle from bushes
slow-growing crescendo
of crashing picture-windows
gardens
uprooted
blown        pinkandwhite        skyhigh
frozen agonies of begonias
held for a moment liike a blurred polaroid
lawns flung like carpets
golfclubs    potting sheds    wheeled shopping-baskets
hurled into orbit

depfreezes burst open
prepackaged meals spilling everywhere
invitations to whist-drives    coffee mornings
letters to long-haired sons at campus universities
never to be delivered
pinboards    posters of Che Guevara stereo systems
continental quilts     rows of neat lettuces
blameless chihuahas    au pair girls
still wet from dreams of Italian waiters
mothers in law    bullfight trophies    sensible sooden toys
whirled helples in a vortex
rockeries like asteroids
blizzards of appleblossom
against the April sunlight

villa after villa
flickers off like television
birdsounds blur into the silence
heaps of white entrails
nestling amid lilies-of the-vlley
ripple like tarmac
gravel chatters        the crazy dance of pavingstones
whole avenues implode
gantries and railway bridges
quiet sidings
engulfed by avalanches of privet and howthorn
waves of chalk earth flecked with hemlock and nettle-roots
burying commuter stations

far away
the first distant ripples
flutter dovecots
disturb the pigeons
roosting in oasthouses
weekend cottages
doff their thatch to the sky
mountaintops tumble like cumuli
gales of earth
ravage through ryefields
pylons tremble like seismographs
cries of children
circling like seagulls
echo the distance

a
solitary
picnicker
sitting on a breakwater
above the red flint-strewn beach
hears the distant thunder
as clifftops crumble
looks up from the light scumbling the silver water
ro see the horizon catch fire
showers of small stones
smell of uprooted samphire
the last slive of ham    a packet of biscuits    the small black notebook
slip away unseen
as the concrete rears vertical
his ears’ last echo
the cires of lost sea-birds
one dirfting pink petal
catches the dying sunlight

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