'Somewhere-on-Sea' by Yorkshire poet Benjamin Husbands conjures up the ennui of lockdown spent on the North Yorkshire coast in post-Brexit Britain. Husbands expresses nostalgia in the truest sense of the word in this bittersweet poem, which combines a strong sense of place with an honest reflection of the times we're living in.
Author's introduction: A semi-autobiographical poem about my observations during the Covid year when I moved back home to the coast of North Yorkshire.
by Benjamin Husbands
Languishing. Shut up, shut out. In the sticks,
watching embers grow cold in ash piles left over from the viaduct blaze.
Me? An apprentice matchstick firefighter –
the only grad scheme hiring.
Me, sat beside it all,
shivering for an eternity,
Across town, a village bigot parades the streets:
a retired serviceman armed with cans and a Ginsters pasty.
He awaits the marching southern hordes who travel up to tear his heroes down.
Yet, it never crosses his mind in the June sunshine,
that they’d never destroy a war memorial.
Clearly he’s missed the point on purpose,
Under his stomps, my sweethearts stir at the foot of the Morning After Hill.
Sacrificed an age ago. For what?
For a degree, then another degree
then another, then
For nothing more than a three-hundred-and-sixty retreat to
An old friend of mine got away for good,
his first car warped and rusted in a heap.
His mother, the first person to buy me a drink, was locked away in the back seat.
Since then, the footballers have all retired; De Niro makes comedies.
And the last generation to grow up outside gaming lobbies
long for little else than a driveway and a PVC conservatory,
On cue, the next tourist train rushes in as I hear my metabolism slowing
and feel the headland eroding.
In two lifetimes it’ll all be gone,
along with any memory of me.
And I think of what a good thing that would be,
as I devour a lemon top and look out at
Benjamin Husbands is a writer based in North Yorkshire who focuses his efforts on poetry and short fiction. When he is not doing that, he can be found listening to dreary music or walking his dog while listening to dreary music. Husbands seeks inspiration mainly from his upbringing in the Yorkshire countryside.
Cover image by Tom Podmore via Unsplash