The Future Isn’t What it Was (Poem)

A woman empties a bucket of piss,
sloshes through the cobbles as my driver
curses. Cretin! The horses pulling the cart
don’t care, they soldier on; we all do, really.
A withered man with a wicker basket
sells his wears for scraps of tin, fabric, anything.
I blow my nose on a handkerchief,
see streaks of snot and blood and soot.
It’s been a heavy trip. Family are farmers now,
they need help sowing in this charcoal ground.

I get out my mobile phone and rub the screen
dead as the land, as the children and the future,
a black window, it
catches my drivers eye
“Worse for you than cigarettes, them, they used to say,
fuck up your brain, cranial decay, besides, you can’t have any charge on it?
or do you know somewhere with power?”

Yeah, I know, and no, I don’t
I just keep it as a comfort, a reminder
of before the bombs fell, before the nukes dropped,
When I didn’t grow potatoes but popped to a shop.
When’s the last time you had an avocado?
It was a brighter time where boring was bliss
before we entered this fucking abyss.

Aye, he says, those bombs did fall,
but did those times ever really exist?

We sat in silence for the rest of the trip.

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