I was sitting in a battered van, turning away the occasional car.
It was a job, of sorts. Blocking off roads and pointing at
signs: the power of STOP and GO nailed to a length of wood.
It was a view of trees and sky, the texture of fields.
How a just finished estate waits like a sealed toy town,
a Lego simplicity to the bricks and walls, the perfect lawns.
I thought of the clean clothes worn by the pristine inhabitants.
The men who wash their car on a Sunday, and then drive
to the garden centre. I thought about plant pots and decking,
the miniature ponds and plastic gnomes. And how I wanted
nothing more than to be at sea, standing at the prow of a listing
ship, cutting into gales and foaming swell, as the coast
unravelled. But along that road I was landlocked. Trapped
in a van with a broken radio. Blank static and wind in the leaves.
It was the world I walked as a boy, the daydream, where I wandered
streets as a sole survivor, opening doors onto emptied rooms,
lighting matches and torching school. And in this dream
I would drive to the beach in a stolen car, the wreckage of a town
in the rear-view mirror.
Nicholas Hogg is the author of Tokyo, now in production as a Ridley Scott film starring Eric Bana and Sadie Sink. He has recent work in Magma, The North, Poetry Birmingham, and The London Magazine. In 2021 he received the Gregory O'Donoghue International Poetry Prize, and in 2023 Broken Sleep will publish his debut collection, Missing Person. @nicholas_hogg www.nicholashogg.com
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