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Wednesday, 28 August 2013 00:00

Terry Jones - Not Before That

Well Versed
edited by Jody Porter

Not before hedge-fund managers howl in the streets
bare heads turned ancient with ashes,
shadow familiars held in their arms like bereavements,
not before that; not before banks open their vaults
and sunlight floods hidden traceries with memory,
so the gargoyles melt and the mummies unwrap,
not before that; not before the stock exchange is swept
and laid out as a crèche, its pink paper curtains lifting
in a harmony of wind chimes, its futures infant and human,
not before that; not before Thames House and its Sinister Sister
across the river, its grey ziggurat of whispers, are closed
and reopened as glass-fronted, open public libraries,
the state secrets rendered in labelled, unlocked cases,
not before the public schools tremble with free entry,
and private hospitals acknowledge universal pain;
not before the black bats of capitalism walk upright
and transcribe in clean copy and common English
every secret of their language, its dark quavers;
not before the drones are mutated to pure white doves
settling benign as snow on the hungry and hunted;
not before the oaks and apples of full employment,
not before the wheat fields of social housing,
not before the unfingered heritage of the NHS,
not before spring is declared on the rusted bells of St Paul’s
and equality flowers in precincts and vines the columns,
but not before that, not before that, not before that.

Terry Jones was for many years UCU Branch Secretary at Carlisle College, and now works and writes independently. His poetry is widely published and has appeared in the New Statesman, Poetry Review, The London Magazine, Ambit, Magma and others. His first pamphlet publication is Furious Resonance, from Poetry Salzburg in 2011. This poem first appeared in the Robin Hood Book, edited by Alan Morrison and Angela Topping.

Well Versed is edited by Jody Porter. Read more here.

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