Regeneration (Elephant & Castle)

One of my rare serious poems, this was inspired (and largely written in) the Elephant and Castle area of south London, just down the road from where I’ve lived for most of my life. Elephant is the victim of constant (and constantly stalled) attempts at urban regeneration, and is now a curious mix of shiny new tower blocks, a 1960s shopping centre and wasteland. Peer through the hoardings of these vacant sites, and you can see how in only a few years the weeds have taken over.


Where once were weeds,

Concrete crawls,

Billboards blossom. Sprouting walls

Now scrape the dull polluted sky,

As tendrilled cranes climb stiffly by.

Where once were weeds.


Where once were weeds

There breed and bloom,

(In breezeless air-conditioned rooms)

Blue-sky thoughts, outside the box,

As carefully pruned as hedged-in blocks.

Where once were weeds.


Where once were weeds,

Seed-heads burst,

And winds of whim soon do their worst

As heated summer leads to fall;

The dynamite, the wrecking ball.

Till rubble rests like dormant seeds.

Where once, again, are weeds.



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