Crime and punishment

Well, sky, explain how we’ve offended you
This time – why do you glower grimly down
Upon us, dark and threatening? Wish I knew
What malefaction set that furrowed frown
Across the firmament. And you, south wind –
What’s your complaint; why do you rage and roar
Against us? List the ways that we have sinned,
The wickedness we’re now atoning for.
The rain retreats for weeks, and then returns
In storm and sudden flood: the faithless sun
Leaves us in shivering grey before it burns
Our crops and gardens. What is it we’ve done?
The weather is repaying us, it seems,
For our excesses with its own extremes.


The driest winter ever – twice – brings drought:
The reservoirs half-empty, hosepipes banned,
Groundwater critical, dark talk about
The standpipes springing up across the land
Just like they did way back in ’76.
With twice the average rain we’ll be OK
They tell us (that is, if they ever fix
The countless leaks that let it slip away).
The story’s different if you walk or ride:
No water shortage here that I can see.
Seems I get soaked each time I step outside:
My boots protest; bikes glare accusingly.
And whether you believe that we’re to blame,
Ask me, it’s started. Things won’t be the same.

Sustainable transport


You talk about the old days;
You talk about the old ways:
My course has run unaltered
These five hundred years and more.
Great estates and families faltered:
I endured, enshrined in law.

Each generation knew me,
Their boots and habits drew me:
The traveller and teacher,
The journeyman for hire;
The ploughman and the preacher
The shepherd and the squire;

The heedless, hopeless lover,
The poacher back from covert,
All passed this way. I saw them
In all weathers, season-round
By bridge and stile I bore them
Safe wherever they were bound.

And when the oil stops flowing
And the world is clean at last,
I’ll still get you where you’re going
As I did in ages past.