Lincolnshire’s Poet Laureate writes Theddlethorpe verse

Just heard a real nice poem on Country Tracks, it’s by Joel Stickley and was inspired by a warning sign on Theddlethorpe beach…

Untitled (Theddlethorpe)

At Theddlethorpe, the sea goes out for miles

and England falls away beneath your feet

while concrete bunkers hidden on the dunes

wait silently for rabbits to retreat.

Amongst the drift of wood and broken shells,

the path along the seaweed tide is lined

with white-on-red official signs that warn

that there’ll be no reward for things you find.

He searches anyway, his school shoes wet,

imagination full of guns and gold.

He scuffs his feet through suspect spots of sand;

somewhere, back home, his dinner’s getting cold.

He wants a souvenir of something real;

he wants to hold a thing that heroes held –

a hand grenade, an unexploded bomb.

He wants his heart to swell as theirs have swelled.

One scuffing school shoe thunks on something hard.

He kneels down and starts to excavate.

He feels it – metal, buried in the sand.

One hand digs deep, then pulls. He feels the weight.

It shucks off sand, emerges with a schwup;

the cavity refills with rising silt.

His breathing quick, he wipes the metal clean.

His heart swells now – excitement, fear and guilt.

He holds it up, the surface oddly slick;

it feels so heavy, alien and dead.

Then something from a video game he played:

‘War never changes,’ whispers in his head.

‘It never does,’ the lump of metal says.

He drops it, stung. It thumps into the sand.

A second passes – he is still alive.

It stares at him. He wipes dirt from his hand.

It speaks again – a hollow metal voice:

‘But you don’t know the smell of blood, my lad.

Your Xbox zombies never taught you that –

that churning in your gut you’ve never had.’

He turns and runs – the rabbits scatter out.

The puddled sands reflect the afternoon,

then rise to fill his footsteps as he goes.

The concrete bunkers stare out from the dune.

He stumbles on a sunken pile of kelp,

turns with his ankle, spins and sprints away.

Behind him sits the lump of metal, still;

he knows that there’ll be no reward today.

He feels a burning in his throat and lungs.

Imagined spitfires cover his retreat.

At Theddlethorpe, the sea goes out for miles

and England falls away beneath his feet

Joel Stickley

I am very keen on this modern trend by poets to write verses that combine the everyday, almost mundane, with classic beauty or simple mini story telling (David Bugg).

Lincolnshire’s Poet Laureate writes Theddlethorpe verse – Leisure – Louth Leader.

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