Three poems by Tom Sastry


It’s like the old days; a fortnight’s needs
in tins under the stairs. The crisis,
like the weather is changeable. Some days
the shops are full, the power constant.
Some days the streets are calm. The news is still
earnest nothings, outrage, sport and gossip.
They haven’t yet asked for your passwords.
The leaves turn. You still have a job.

The wild existence the hippies wanted
is here. We are a tribe with toasters.
We sing to the fire. People listen more
to the world beyond words, feel the warm gift
of fragile bodies. Keep Your Head Down
as the slogan says. Then Hold It High.

The age of innocence

Last night, I kissed a stone.
The stone thanked me for giving it life.

I placed it at the edge of my bed with the others
and bolted my senses shut

so my flinty dragons could crack into being.
I am not a child:

I have been drunk and hurt and not rescued;
I have failed and gone on with things;

I have followed my words at a safe distance
and watched them wreaking the world.

In these and other ways
I have slashed at the promise of the dark

but in the after-dark I remain glorious,
righteous. There are dragons protecting me.

No news can pass them.
Other nations fear them.
I wallow in the safety of my own air.

Smart city

Cement is money, poured over the land.
Do not worry about the land, it will be back.
Do not worry about copper wire, it gets recycled.
Do not worry about monkeys or naked children.
Do not worry about unscripted plants.
Do not worry about the disgrace of visionary planners.
Water is guaranteed and the restaurants
never run dry. Talk knowledgeably

about connectivity and foreign graduate schools.
Consider the riddle of love and perfect teeth.
Worry about iPads, golf courses
and clean, leisured youth. Worry about hemlines.
Imagine the prospects of the three
beautiful daughters of the King of Same-Day
Solutions. Sit on the beach we made.
Wear sunglasses, you’ll need them.

Tom Sastry was chosen by Carol Ann Duffy as one the 2016 Laureate’s Choice poets. His resulting pamphlet, Complicity, was a Poetry School Book of the Year and a Poetry Book Society pamphlet choice. He is currently co-editing Everything that can happen: poems about the future with Suzannah Evans for publication by Emma Press in January 2019. His first full collection will be published by Nine Arches Press in Autumn 2019.