Spring 1987

By James Turner
A silent figure shifts along

Beneath a green and leafy bank,

With in his heart a dreary song

And on his back a plastic tank,

And sprinkles with a deadly rain

The weeds that grow beside the lane;
And in the passing poison shower

Wall pennywort and lords-and-ladies,

Nettle and goosegrass, leaf and flower,

Are chemically despatched to Hades:

Tomorrow any passer-by

May see them sicken, droop and die.
In line against a granite wall

Jack-by-the-hedge stand proud and straight,

But soon they’ll twist like corkscrews, all

In silent protest at their fate.

Our passerby will ask,

“Are these Not victims of some strange disease?
What will the Judge’s verdict be?

The Best-Kept Village contest comes!

In tubs and hanging baskets, see?

Petunias and geraniums:

That’s what the Judge will judge us on.

So, work that lever, silent one.

Spring 2012

By James Turner
In this street nothing grew at all
where pavement meets with churchyard wall,
but while financial markets crash,
here weeds can make a coloured splash.
They root and photosynthesise and cling
where stone and asphalt once were king.
This gum-bespattered world has mellowed,
primrosed, oxford-ragwort-yellowed.
For, since corruption bit the banks,
no men have passed with plastic tanks
of herbicide to spray the weeds
before they bloom and shed their seeds.
More weeds means insects, means more birds—
I’d paint the future green with words!—
but when the money flows again,
they’ll soon return, those dogged men,
with tanks of poison on their backs,
to mount their chemical attacks
on cheekily invasive plants.
Those primroses won’t stand a chance.