Hooked Up To The Morphine Gun

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY ESA/NASA

After being named poet laureate of the United Kingdom last year, Simon Armitage announced a new prize for poetry about the environment, citing the climate crisis as an inescapable presence in his life. Here, Armitage paints a portrait of collapse on a more intimate scale with an exclusive new poem for Atmos.

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hooked up
to the morphine gun

all you did for a week

was breathe and sleep |

then the breathing stopped |

they reckon the angels demand their share

of the sherry butt, but

what do angels care
for see-through, watery

spiritless air? |

wouldn’t they sooner trawl or dowse

for the booze itself,

for soulful liquids cradled in oak and drowsing for years

under blankets of mould,

bloodgroups chalked on the barrel ends,

the transfusions at work? |

in the hushed bodega it’s never more

than a purple dusk;

on its ward-round
a dragonfly sips

from a weeping cask

This article appears in Volume 03: Flourish/Collapse of Atmos.

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