Poetry: Heritage | clivejames.com
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England, and a drive through farms,
Through dripping lanes, bumper-deep in mud,
Diseased herds suffering the weather
And pubs where couples drained their years together,
Sitting with pursed lips and crossed arms
Over pints of bitter and tomato juice,
And me chewing my own bitter cud,
And me logging all of it for future use

In some piece of versified revenge
As we joined the tailback past Stonehenge
And Salisbury, past Keep Out signs
And mile on mile of razor-wire,
Past the prehistoric mines
And dug-outs, fox-holes, shelling-scars,
Past the skyward-pointing spire
And mile on mile of oncoming cars;

Just to drift through panelled rooms, past walls
Of flushed, same-featured faces
Or wander round some flowering oasis
While I, stiff from the drive down, bored
Half to death, hung-over, sour with guilt
Imagined my hard-earned reward:
Her cupped hand on my tightened balls,
Her legs parting slyly under the B&B’s damp quilt...


The paths we trudged through Somethingshire!
We tossed and turned in creaking beds
And sheltered from the rain in leaking sheds
And once she said, if all we could share
Was time, there wasn’t any point in going on —
A sudden  ‘call of nature’ (from the beer)
And, hidden in the ferns, a bigger scare:
A cow’s skull, grinning. Soon you will be gone,

It said; What can you share but this,
But time, your moment here? Which will pass,
As fleeting as the pause between two waves,
As your footsteps on this grass
Which might be growing on your graves.
Caught short like you, she yanks down her pants
(This is real life, not chivalric romance)
And what are you? Nothing, wind and piss,

A shrivelled cock, the Kleenex scrap
She wipes herself with, that is whipped into the void —
As you will be. (She hoiked them up again,
I mimed absorption in some guidebook crap...)
You won’t sit for ever in the dappled shade
Of oak and beech, such as you once enjoyed,
Or run laughing for cover from the rain;
You won’t be reborn, you’ll dwindle, fade

And disappear, become two names
Illegible on a lichen-covered headstone
In some forgotten churchyard, overgrown
With weeds and briars and brambles
Or go to ash, to smoke and air
Inbreathed by nature-lovers on their rambles,
No-one to watch you slide into the flames
And shed a shy, a shuddering tear;

No silent gratitude in Georgian rooms
(Solicitors, Commissioners for Oaths),
No deeds of trust, no much-loved homes,
No legacy of life, no precious heirlooms —
What good are they without a sodding heir? —
Just a few hundred well-thumbed tomes’,
A thrift-shop rack of stale-smelling clothes,
Some letters tied with ribbon, “Dear —”;

They too will fade and crumble, like
The regimental colours and the tweeds
And the old girls and boys who wore them,
Like all the other stuff that feeds
The worm, the moth; and soon you’ll start
To creak and rust and fall apart
Just like that old abandoned bike,
Those roofs with no-one to restore them...


Breakfast: while she watched her eggs congeal
I contemplated circumcised remains
Of sausage, and a bacon-rind;
An hour before, I’d fucked her from behind
And now her face wore all the strain
Of wanting not to punish me,
Of battling indecisively
Some hurt of mine she could not heal...

Back, then, through half-timbered towns,
Past the homes of billionaires
Who long ago cashed in their shares
And bought England, whose slim blonde wives
Work out and punish four-wheel-drives
On their way to an assignation
Over lunch in the hotel lounge,  ‘The Downs’;
Past the theme-park (Heritage Nation)

Where the beer-bellies, shaven heads
And shiny shell-suits swarm
Over litter-strewn lawns, and storm
The Bouncy Castle and the potting sheds
 ‘Now selling lager, lolly’s, video’s’;
Past the lane that every flasher knows;
Past the woods where little girls take root.
And none of this would bear fruit.