An interview with Ian, in which he discusses themes explored in the following poems, is up concurrently on Wild Court here.
Instead of revolution we have rain: it seeps into the English soil and permeates our lives. Some stayed at home and made the pit-wheel turn, some manned the barricades in Spain and came back changed by what they saw – the bombed-out cities and the ruined squares, or they put on their overcoats and caps and took the long road south to Parliament. The newsreel shows them smiling, singing songs they’d learned by heart from marching in a different kind of war, despite the downpour and the roughness of the road. Each had a woodbine dangling from his mouth. They came back empty handed and unheard. And now the last of them is dead I look out on the dripping rain and wonder what it meant or what it means to live without a voice in this bland, slipshod democracy we need to reinvent.
Here we have no shooting stars to leave a trail across the northern skies. Three hundred years of smoke and grime obscured them from our sight. It doesn’t stop us looking though: the streets are filled with hopeful souls who gather there to see the stricken angels fall. Your cities have polluted our dark regions with their light. Likewise you will not listen when we say: divert your high-speed railway from our door and stop the choking fume of cars; give us back our clear cold winter night and let our children see the shooting stars.