Poetry – Calling Time on the Past

Calling Time on the Past

Travelling cross-country on a train

Past old factories and warehouses,

Relics from a past age,

Looking forlorn, drab and neglected,

In disrepair.

Yesterday’s dreams tarnished with time,

Clinging on desperately for grim life.

The drab brick discoloured and faded,

Adorned with soot and graffiti,

Amidst debris and litter,

Festooned with razor-wire –

No longer the hope of the future,

Now ageing limpets

Adhering to an eroding rock

And knowing

That a big storm is already on its way.

There is no profit sufficient to restore their glory.

They are left hanging on,

And on, and on, and on,

On a wish.

Displaced by robots and cheap labour abroad,

Yet still with full carparks of workers cars.

Workers who are disgruntled,

Ever settling for less,

Keep an anxious eye on an approaching exit;

To the days when weeds and shards of glass

Will displace the clatter of machinery and chatter.

Time to move on.

Time to invent the new.

Time to seek a different way.

Time to leave the past behind.

Time to learn new skills.

For the old ways are busy dying.


Maybe in time to re-emerge as skeletons?

To reassume a splendour of archaeological delight?

Broken walls stark against a sunset sky

Rich in nostalgia for an age gone by

Made majestic again by time?


Calling Time on the Past

I wrote this poem while travelling by train across Britain from Hull to Manchester. I was catching a flight to Australia to begin a journey that would take me through Java, Borneo, Indonesia, the Phillipines, Vietnam, India, the Middle East and home.

There was excitement in the air and sadness too. I was looking at the slowly decaying heartland of British manufacturing. I was also looking back through strata of ruins at past eras when the mines and mills ruled but are now completely gone.

I was living in Brexit Britain still clinging to the ideas of the past when Empire ruled and wealth flowed in to fill the coffers of the rich and provide employment for the exploited poor.

Times change.

I had Trump’s words ringing in my ears – how he was going to restore those decaying American industries – the coal, oil and steel – to do away with renewables and deny the future.

Times change.

Was America diving back, like Britain, into the past instead of forging ahead?

I felt it was time to call time on the past and embrace the new before we become left behind.

I had an image of those forlorn factories re-emerging at some later stage to become objects of beauty, in much the same way our broken castles, abbeys and mills have done, their ugliness transformed.

Time is change. There is no going back.

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