We have seen things

02 October 2020, Category: poetry


We have seen millions of years
stacked upon another in sediment
history etched into the stone,
outlines and skeletons of creatures
beyond imagination who used
to claim this planet as their own.
We have wandered far from light
covered our hands in ochre dust
and pressed them into the walls
to leave a mark for those following.

We have roamed away from our home
plains, seen towering trees that are
the earth breathing, lakes turned to
rock by angry gods, high mountains
where they sit and argue our fates.

We have noticed the wheat rising
along well worn paths and so
we have pressed ears into the soil
and seen how it rises yearly, light
transformed into food. We have
planted rows, built shelters to tend
our crops and in this way we have
taken control of nature and the future.

We have seen villages, towns and empires
rise from dust and collapse back
into the wind. We have seen ships
defy the impossible and float on
waves to other lands. We have seen faces
revealed in pigment or excavated
from the cool marble. We have invented
codes using simple lines and have read
all the myriad, longing voices of the dead.

We have created so much suffering.
Ore raised from the ground, under
heat and rage transformed into blades.
Into bullets. We have claimed whole lands
under fantasies of flags, considered
men and women to be products and
transported them across oceans,
spread plagues with gifts of blankets.

We have seen strange machines
automatons that play invented games,
engines that carve up the landscape,
glowing screens that transport us
to other worlds. We have seen rockets
blaze beyond morning, seen the sun
rise over the horizon on other planets.

We have seen waves rise higher,
fires unleashed, destroying forests,
skies orange and thick with smoke,
mercury rising too fast, winters no
longer full of snow. We know this
to be our fault as we huddle together,
hoping we will be here to see more.

The rock under our feet tells us nothing.


This was written for the wonderful Bristol Tonic event last night. The prompt was the title “We have seen things.”



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