“The Time The Light Went Out” by Peter Branson


How did the Dark Age come?
                                           The power wound down.
There’d been some temporary rationings
but this time they’d been warned it was for good.
Cookers lay barren, central heating stalled
and kettles lacked the will to mash the tea;
no candles left to burn, light chased the sun.
Lids flipped, big-time; weird portents, false sunsets.
The web and mobile culled, churches swelled up –
All day confessionals.” They soon got used
to life without TV; had radio,
just BBC and certain hours per day:
Don’t panic. It will do more harm than good.

Then what?
                 Home freezers stank. Cards idle, cash
points blunt – rioting: “All looters will be shot!
Shops glass-eyed blanks and supermarket shelves
exposed, how people change… They hid what food
they’d got. Pet cats and dogs soon disappeared.
Gunfire was circumspect, mostly at night:
can’t live on love. Tap water was unsound;
rubbish and sewage stacked. With pharmacies
racked dry, they dropped like pins: Death rock ‘n’ rolled.
The mood turned desperate: a boy was birched
for stealing cabbage leaves; black marketeers
and deviants were scourged and strung from trees.

Who lived and died?
                              Folk tried to flee the towns
and cities. All known exits batten-downed
and booby-trapped, a few got out on foot
before the walls of razor wire went up.
From then escape well nigh impossible,
Badlands we shun today, rank with hindsight,
became death camps. Nine out of ten expired:
many gave up the ghost. But where we are,
farm stuff long commandeered, some held their breath:
with notice of old ways you kept alive.
Gamekeeper, poacher, new age traveller
survived The Cleansings; gypsies dined like kings.


Peter Branson’s poetry has been published in Britain, USA, Canada, Ireland, Australasia and South Africa, including Acumen, Agenda, Ambit, Anon, Envoi, The London Magazine, North, The Warwick Review, Iota, Frogmore Papers, Prole, South, Crannog, The sHOP, Rattle, The Raintown Review, The Columbia Review, Huston Poetry Review, Barnwood, The Able Muse, The New Writer and Other Poetry. His latest book, Red Hill, Selected poems, 2000-2012  (Lapwing, Ireland), came out May 2013.

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