Nothing Short of Dismal

Everything is packed up ready to leave
for the last time on a dark and dismal
February day as the spring tide roars
on the other side of the dunes waiting
to devour the coast the fields the villages
drown the towns and rampage in the cities
and you say “Let’s go to the pub it’s empty
we can grab a few beers for the journey”
sticking your hands in your deep jacket pockets
and we just walk out of the cottage door
with tears in our eyes not knowing where
the wind might take us – as if we cared
now the world is coming to a watery end
and there’s no future around the river bend.

Kim M. Russell, 13th February 2020

My response to dVerse Poets Pub Meeting the Bar: The Death Sentence, also linked to Poets and Storytellers United Writers’ Pantry

Amaya is keeping the bar this week and she tells us that, having read Michael Simms’ blog Vox Populi – A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature for four years now, she was recently intrigued by a poetry challenge the poet/curator gave himself.  Amaya says that this poetry challenge is brilliant for penetrating the psyche of the post-modern ‘people’s voice’ – it’s tricky but exciting!

Rule 1: the poem must tell a story in one sentence.
Rule 2: the poem must explore the theme of ‘the end of civilization as we know it.’
Rule 3: the story must tell of an odd or embarrassing incident, either heard about, witnessed, or autobiographical.
Rule 4: it must be improvised.

We may write up to three story-sentence-poems that answer the prompt.

52 thoughts on “Nothing Short of Dismal

    1. Thank you, Bjorn. Twenty eight years ago, we got a taste of it when, in the early hours of a Sunday morning, we were woken by sirens and knocking at the door of our little cottage by the sea. The spring tides threatened to breach the defences and we had to evacuate. Luckily, the only casualty was a police car that was swept down the lifeboat ramp, but it reminded older locals of the floods of the 1950s, when a whole village disappeared under the waves, and is linked to the current problems we have with coastal erosion and our uncertain future.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jade. The loss of our coastline is more than worrying. Many people have lost homes and livelihoods, empty properties hang off the edges of cliffs, and the threat of the sea is ever present.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Coastlines are eroding everywhere, from New Orleans to Miami to New York. Ice caps are melting like blocks of ice in the Sahara. Your piece was well written, with a terrific sense of place and time. When I lived in LA we had to run from wild fires and flash floods.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Amaya. There’s a YA novel by Marcus Sedgwick called Floodland, which is set in an England covered by water, where Norwich is an island, It might happen.


    1. Somebody has made a predicted map of East Anglia that shows sea encroachment – all three villages we have lived in over the last 28 years will be swallowed up!


  2. Here was I thinking Australia was in such danger from climate changeand forest fires with the melting South Pole threatening a rising sea level and back in England you are in trouble too. Sounds as though we have been a bit careless everywhere!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Meeting the Death Sentence challenge with perfection! I admit I side-stepped it, finding I don’t seem to do dystopia well. I admire your versatility, as this is a quantum leap from your norm and you’ve done it so well.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How beautiful this is from the urgency of flooding to the casual idea of having a beer in the midst of chaos, which has me thinking of how different people handle such things or just how sometimes we give up in the face of doom. The audio version adds so much to the interpretation, really emphasizing the contrasts.I love this, Kim!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Some of my neighbors and I threw sandbags along the Mississippi River in 1993 flood. When more people arrived nearly 6 hours later, we got our first break. We realized that only one person outside of us knew we were there and we realized what would have happened if the levee broke. After we shared a few pitchers at our local bar, I finally relaxed.
    I think I understand why someone would want to have a pint at the pub during the chaos.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We no longer live by the sea, but are on the Norfolk Broads, a connected group of lakes and rivers on the east coast of England, where there is still flood risk. We have a pile of sandbags just in case. As Bill Bryson said, Britain is a small island.


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