Picnic on the DLR
Friday night, when I arrive at yours
you say ‘don’t take off your coat -
we’re going out’ and pick up
a wicker basket. We step into the dark;
change at Bow Road, for the DLR,
travelling against the commuter flow.
We’re sitting at the front. I realise
our train is driverless; its blind head
nosing like an eel among the buildings;
Mudchute, Island Gardens, Heron Quays.
We’ve got game pie and olives, pink champagne,
we’re eating it all up. At Canary Wharf,
the fifty-storey megalith that screws
TV reception all over the East End
is watchful. Lifts flick silent up the tower
like pinball scores, reflecting
in the oily scumble of the docks
where once, the spoils of Empire
unloaded like a cheap bazaar.
There are good livings to be made in this
Blackpool for the Thatcher generation.
We’re half expecting our toy train to dip and plunge
sending us screaming through the fairground;
but, for tonight, we ride serenely on.
Driving Through Aldermaston
In spring, the avenue of poplar trees
glowed apricot-bronze. We paused for the convoy:
a low, green truck, plus blue-light escort
and motorcycle outriders. The Hind’s Head,
the Village Stores, the curved Dutch gables
of the gatehouse (one window always open;
somebody must sleep in there), the primary school.
That one tree, burdened with its mistletoe.
Red Lane, security gates, the perimeter fence
garlanded with so much razor wire.
Judi Sutherland worked in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry for 23 years until taking redundancy in 2011. Her poems have appeared in The Interpreter's House, Oxford Poetry, New Statesman and Acumen, among others. She blogs about her writing at www.judisutherland.com and also edits The Stare’s Nest www.thestaresnest.com
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