after William Blake
This isn’t a town you’d like to visit.
Arriving one night, I wandered through streets
Whose lights were smashed, I stumbled with the blind.
No guide. No map. Wheelchairs, I think, were dumped
in alleys. Beggars crawled on their knees, squeezing
their plastic cups like rosaries. One man screamed
for help, but no one came. I hurried past,
too numbed to care. And outside an open window
a mother wept for her hungry child
while a drummer thumped out his merciless tune. He,
at least, was getting high. Then the window slammed shut,
crushing someone’s fingers, crushing someone’s hopes.
I wandered on through each darkened street
until the sky burned red and howled and cried
and a god, just waking, yawned and fell back asleep.
Like metallic Furies machines clanged clanged clanged
churning out their mind-forged manacles;
blood ran down the factory, the palace walls;
and the shade of William Blake went raging by,
appalled. But no angel’s wings doused the flames,
resurrected the ruins, healed the sick.
No, this isn’t a town you’d like to visit.
Peter Adair won the Northern Ireland Funeral Services Poetry Competition in 2016. His poems have appeared in The Honest Ulsterman, The Galway Review, FourXFour, Panning for Poems,Snakeskin, The Stare’s Nest and other journals. He is a 12NOW (New Original Writer) with Lagan Online. He lives in Bangor, Northern Ireland, and can be found on Twitter @padair226.