Islands Of Debris: extracts from The Ballad Of Stokes Croft

Download the full ballad, for free, as a PDF here: The Ballad Of Stokes Croft


Look, there, she’s turning away from us. Off
amongst the shunned to drugs that’ll take her,
amidst the smell and sound of Jamaica,
Somal’ya, Pakistan, England: aloft’s
swept the litter with her dying exhale;
down’s the rain, to rejoin from the skyway
whence it ascended, and onto, it fell
(and it falls (and it will fall)), disarray
that is yet drawing together fabric
of all kinds, of all colours, of all minds,
of all troubles: the world’s strife’s compacted
and – though burnt, torn, scarred – together it binds
the frayed ends and relentlessly sutures
that quilt b’yond the walls, now with a future.

A fixture finding some semblance of home
in dens of sheets, in tents, on furniture;
in glances, in smiles, in compassion shown;
in those – with homes and not – familiar.
Ignominiously ignored, and yet
oft only due to a bewilderment.
A comfort-rending common thing begets
bitter interaction, and both resent.
Scavenge, seagull, searching through the spilled waste.
Screech at the pigeon with the broken foot.
Scan the floor for scraps that can yet be smoked
and implore for money spare – hope for change.
Given with naïve conditions, unfair
demands on its use… Just take it. Here. There.

Waves of ways of making artwork from life.
Scores of sounds – electronic, acoustic.
Walls sprayed with all kinds of colours – dark, bright.
Generations giving new life to it.
Ruptured yet still along fault lines and cracks,
riven with/driven by crime and grassroots,
underground prominence, overground shoots
emerge through concrete, cardboard, sleeping bags,
shells of old businesses, neglected walls,
islands of debris, roundabouts made holes;
stoops, streets, and doorways; crossroads and junctions;
places devoid of life and of function.
A torturous springtime, fought for and earned,
not to be taken for granted or spurned.

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