David Ralph Lewis

The time traveller has questions, even after orientation

Where are your forests?

	They have been infected with stone
	and glass, the branches stripped
	and only the thick trunks remain.
	We call them ‘skyscrapers.’
How do you breathe?

	Through respirators and filters.
	Our lungs protested at first
	but we ignored opposition,
	suppressed our choking
	until they adapted to
	our changed atmosphere.

What are these glowing rectangles?

	Where we go to work, relax,
	scream at each other for
	crimes real and imaginary,
	glasses through which we see
	the world as it could be,
	constant companions,
	telepathy producers
	empathy dampeners,
	gods we barely understand.

Where are we?

	On a lifeboat lost in the ocean
	with no hope of rescue,
	endlessly drifting.
	We are determined
	to take an axe to the hull. 


Which one are you this year? Head
filled with feathers and tailor scraps		
or frost? The one on the throne
or the one who raises the flame?

No matter, a complicit crowd gathers
arriving decades and millennia apart
to bear witness to the ceremony.

So many faces blurring, eyes dark 
as a plague pit, smiles slicing night,
waiting to ease the frantic pulses
deep inside the discarded branches
and piled kindling of their bodies.

You haven’t listened to the warnings of your forefathers

the passing buses hiss through their brakes
but I consider my family line more matriarchal
so I ignore them. The yell of car horns compels
me to repent and absolve myself. I itemise my sins,
and find nothing really worth the hassle, no crime
I haven't already atoned for several times over.
A moan of sirens urges me to start a new life
but I am stuck in this one. As the rumble of articulated
lorries inform me I will never amount to anything,
my life is a dismal failure on every qualification
that I have squandered my only time on this earth,
I put my headphones in and turn the hum up loud. 

David Ralph Lewis (www.davidralphlewis.co.uk) is a  Forward prize nominated poet based in Bristol, UK who has been published in Marble Poetry Magazine, Nine Muses Poetry and Neon Magazine. He has two pamphlets, Our Voices in the Chaos published by Selcouth Station and Refraction. He enjoys dancing badly at gigs and attempting to grow vegetables. 

Flights. Issue Two, September 2021