free agent

every dirt road tyre induced
dust squall moving earth,

every catch breath skip stone
touch the surface surface surface
rings across the river,

every single used refused recycled
bag and bottle in the ocean,

every fence-line run – cut
like a swathe, staked
claimed for the tamed,
the concreted and the scared.

every tree felled, logged,
haggled over – sold
cheap furniture, packaging material,
paper towel to wipe the spill
in the interest of bottom line,
shareholders, pension funds;
because of course it is
every man for himself
independent alone separate.

every budget t-shirt,
two for the three for the price
of one woman sewing
bare bulb on the factory floor,
one farmer, one field, one cotton seed;
until the earth sighs
her own worthlessness
as the clothes arrive
by shipload to landfill.

every word spoken
in love, in regret, in anger.

every child fallen
in the name of oil wars –
turn the ignition
drive to town, to school,
to buy our sustenance
and daily bread.
(forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those
who trespass against us)

every tongue held
in fear, in apathy, in silent

every cloud break down pour
rain dance on our skin,
every river damned blocked
canalled cleansed piped
drip drip waste flush thirsty thirsty thirst

every i am,
every yes, every no,
every vote cast, every story sung
and truth untold, swallowed
by the silence and shouted in the street.

every buy, every ban, every boycott, every march.
every seed planted – every deep breath lived,
every inhaled crescent moon
slipping the pinked horizon,
every dark night sleepless
when the stars don’t come.
all of it is ours –
this is what it means to have agency.


WhatsApp Image 2020-02-27 at 16.42.45





16 thoughts on “free agent

  1. Absolutely marvelous. The syntax is strange, jumpy at first – it makes me think of the modal jazz of “Kind of Blue” — dancing around the root. Free even of poetry, which is the body’s jouissance, the joy of living on earth amid such crushing dying. That is to be a “free agent” of “every catch breath step stone.” But all of it, yes? “All of it is ours..” Amen. – Brendan


    1. Thanks Brendan. i sort of posted it as a question. I have been going through the recent poem a days – this one is day 89 of about 5 months (all very first draft) and I am not sure. Partly i like the endless list – the lack of breath by the end of it – the barrage of it maybe. But i am not sure the moments of beauty, in amongst everything, read. if it needs more punctuation or line breaks to pull the images out more – separate them out a bit maybe? i read it with a fairly driving rhythm which is perhaps not held in the poem at all. Is it just too discordant to engage with?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think the breathlessness is what makes it work. You started out on that foot and somewhere just past the middle the poem assumes more regular form. Since it’s an experiment, why not try to keep the pace throughout in a draft and see how that works?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh gosh – the last line made me gasp. So true, so utterly true yet until I read your poem I had not made this connection. Yes, I see it now, the agency we have treasured has been nothing more than the power to pollute, degrade and consume to excess. What a brilliant poem. It opened my eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Suzanne. I do hope and look for where we have agency in our everyday actions to create harmony and community and beauty too. I think our power lies in knowing that there is nothing we can do that will not change the world for better or worse – even in the smallest things. And thanks for the follow.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This poem has a wonderful earthy rhythm and I love the way words trip along the lines, for example:
    ‘every catch breath skip stone
    touch the surface surface surface’
    ‘every single used refused recycled
    bag and bottle in the ocean’.
    I also enjoyed the internal rhymes in:
    ‘claimed for the tamed’
    and the use of lists of three – three is the magic number:
    ‘one farmer, one field, one cotton seed’
    ‘in love, in regret, in anger’.

    Liked by 1 person

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