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17 June 2020updated 09 Sep 2021 2:52pm

Anthropocene Everyman

A new poem from Graham Mort.

By Graham Mort

January’s advent of rain drops from chiffon clouds
unfurling over roof-smoke, flung starlings steadying 

themselves in sharpened air, rain on paving stones 
spotting the windows of houses that wake in yellow 

light, radio-news spilling in to dissipate the dark. 
You turn your face skyward, rain’s dizzy specks 

falling upwards/outwards; you feel almost nothing 
you should rejoice, alive after all, carrying out bin 

bags, the rain reminding you that we have sinned, its 
sour nothings whispered onto slate, that lip of sky 

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curling to suicidal blue. You turn away, stifling warm 
wishes you might offer yourself, greeting a dead car 

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in the driveway, face broken in the mirrors of your 
footprints. You’d be hungry if you could raise that 

brute desire, if you were young again, maybe, except 
not that, not that. There’s her face at the window, your 

child looking down. You raise a hand where a bird might 
have flown free to rain’s aura of extinction, stumbling 

unshriven, unshaven, old-time prophet in a blue kagool.

Graham Mort teaches at Lancaster University and lives in North Yorkshire. A poet and short-story writer, he won the Edge Hill Prize in 2011 for “Touch” (Seren). His latest book, “Like Fado”, will be published by Salt in August.

This article appears in the 17 Jun 2020 issue of the New Statesman, The History Wars