A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Monday, 28 November 2011


Disillusioned words like bullets bark / As human gods aim for their mark / Make everything from toy guns that spark / To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark / It’s easy to see without looking too far / That not much is really sacred BOB DYLAN It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)

Broken lines, broken strings / Broken threads, broken springs / Broken idols, broken heads / People sleeping in broken beds / Ain’t no use jiving Ain’t no use joking / Everything is broken BOB DYLAN Everything Is Broken

Despite our present-day, heightened eco-awarness and our current investment in recyclables and renewables, it's a sobering fact that there are still millions of tonnes of plastic floating in our seas and oceans, that the earth beneath our feet is stuffed full of plastic rubbish, and that the stomachs of many of our seabirds and cetaceans resemble plastic junkyards. Our messy and destructive human footprint is everywhere.

Though, in this poem, 'plastic' takes on a wider, metaphorical meaning: the plasticity of the artificial, the superficial, the inauthentic, the enervated, the meretricious, the unholy. Yes, the commercialisation of Christmas seems to have got to me as usual, folks. I tried to call on Milton, Eliot, even Simon Armitage for constructive guidance, but I've ended up being influenced by Dylan and Dr. Seuss yet again. Not to mention Ray Davies. Oh well, some of us may be destined to remain at the bucket shop end of poetry (and that's a plastic bucket, of course).

plastic world

plastic dog and plastic cat
plastic mouse and plastic rat
plastic flower plastic tree
plastic far as we can see
plastic ice and plastic snow
plastic everywhere we go
plastic death and plastic birth
plastic all around the earth
plastic smile and plastic frown
plastic king with plastic crown
plastic Adam plastic rib
plastic Jesus plastic crib
plastic bird and plastic beast
plastic wise men from the east
plastic shepherds and their flock
plastic chicken plastic cock
plastic sex and plastic love
plastic in the sky above
plastic in the ground beneath
plastic tits and plastic teeth
plastic parents plastic kids
plastic eyes with plastic lids
plastic boy and plastic girl
get me out
of this plastic world


Ruth said...

Dr. Solitary, your simple plaintive voice is more complex than meets the eye and ear. Your juxtapositions are evocative. And by the time I get to "plastic world" I see "jurassic world" and feel its Sargasso magnitude.

My pregnant daughter and I were talking last week about plastic toys and how much we dislike them. And really, I think what we feel is what you express here, which is a desire for authentic living, feeling the essence of our material possessions, and feeling them in harmony with the natural world.

The Solitary Walker said...

We visited Doddington Hall the other day - might do a post about it soon, that would be fun - which is an old Elizabethan stately home near Lincoln, with walks, gardens and an amazing café and shop selling real food: chutneys, pickles, preserves, home-made bread, organic meat, veg, fruit, wine - you name it. Their Christmas gifts and decorations on sale are exquisite. And they sell 'old-fashioned' wooden toys, too...

Anonymous said...

As I read this I hear the voice of Ian Dury


Dominic Rivron said...

Dylan and Dr Seuss? My first thought on the possible influence front was John Cooper Clarke. Was it you and I who were talking about his Chickentown recently?

Suman said...

Very intense! I find it interesting how the 'plastic' symmetry in the lines almost screams back at you when you scroll up and down the page.
And couldn't agree more with "Our messy and destructive human footprint is everywhere".

fireweed said...

I know the feeling. I was reading a newspaper from the city I grew up in (in oil country, where plastic is patriotic), and there was an article with a photo of a plastic man with plastic teeth beaming a plastic smile as he showed off his new plastic lawn. An excellent way, he said to outwit the drying climate, higher water rates, weeds, and, he said, "no grow, no mow."

The Solitary Walker said...

Ah, yes! Ian Dury and John Cooper Clarke! Perfect!

Thanks, Suman. Plastic does scream at you, doesn't it?

I wonder what he did with all the spare time he gained, Fireweed? Probably developed his plastic relationship with his plastic wife, plastic mistress, plastic children and plastic dog, and at the weekends improved his plastic golf handicap.

George said...

Yes, perhaps future historians will look back on all of this as the Age of Plastic. Maybe that is why we are drawn back to wild places. For fleeting moments, we can experience what the world was like before plastic, not just plastic things, of course, but plastic people, plastic ideologies, and plastic relationships among each other and with the Ineffable.

Grace said...

Love this poem.

The malls at this time of year are more depressing than usual. On American Black Friday, some woman was arrested for pepper spraying other customers so she could get the last xbox (or she was acting in self-defense from the stampede f shoppers)--either way, must have been a real good bargin! http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/police-woman-pepper-sprayed-wal-mart-customers-feared-life-article-1.984068?localLinksEnabled=false

I support eco-friendly options have you really have to buy something new, but usually we don't and it's just more junk to consume. I read that even though more families have switched to fluorescent lightbulbs, it doesn't take into account that per household the average home now as 37 lights instead of 28 (for years 1986 - 1991: we can assume it's higher now!) So our per capita energy consumption just keeps going up.

I heard on the radio the other day that the sage grouse may be the first species to go extinct as a direct result of gas and oil extraction (oil sands in Alberta). Of course I heard this news while I was driving my car:(

Anonymous said...

Right, Geroge! A better title for this poem would perhaps be "The Plastic Age".

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks George, Grace and gists for your comments. Grace - good point about lights and energy consumption. Fighting for the last xbox? Jesus! Just take me to the top of the nearest mountain and leave me there till January, someone.