When we travel again

Navigating in Woods


When we travel again

Let humility pause

Our first step

Over the threshold

Gently follow its arc

Of next world discovery,

It’s been a stretch

To recall how things work

Out there in the crowds

Thinly clad and exposed

Swaying for balance

In our flip flap pell mell,

Now we’re gaining some poise

A wear-with-all stance

From seeing the lack of cushioning

In other’s shoes.

Glimpsed from afar

Earth is rising

With stone cold questions

About where we are going.

We’ve stalled in our orbits

Lost global positioning

Carried people poorly

Into the fast lane,

Now the kids are complaining

(How they might!)

From the back seat

None of our devices are working

Denial of generation service.

We let others take us

Beyond our means

To tell friend from foe,

In this silence

The truths have tightened

Around our ethical equator

Rising hot air

Melts these

Imaginary poles

Of our attraction

To difference.

I will not name them:

The bio-terrorists

Forever war mongers

Selling us time shares in stupidity

From untouchable plinths

Scripture has crucified the poor again

Kissing the baloney stones.


When we travel again

Let us worship the small print

For this fragile assembly

Of cell reproduction

In this billion year spreadsheet

Trading life standards

Have been breached,

Complexity governs

In simple truths

Nature bats last

We’d loaded the bases

Forgot the rules of the game.

When we struck out

From the caves

We painted the whole animal situation

Now our bloody palm prints

Glow in the dark

Easy picking

For those we’d unearthed

Washed down Andean slopes,

Now the primitive tree hugging truth

Divulged under deep green state cover

About a viral conspiracy

To consume everything

Exit – pursued by locusts.

The ice has heard the news

Broken its fast, turned to leave

The stage, in altered states we pick up

The time signature

Cast our eyes over the score

At the wake

Lines for old friends

Their bodies released back to us

As we stand by the long boats

Decoding the message

Warriors no more.


When we travel again

Let’s share rescue packages

Of essential life rations

Gift economy wrapped

No hierarchies

Need apply,

We’ve seen their desire

For disaster big brother

They’ve Primed

Pharmed and oiled us

Locked stock and lead barrels

For a gloop coronation

Of collective desserts.

But we’ve not been idle

Cowering out of sight

Behind the sofa

Learning animal magic

For the mutual aid circus

Restored muscle memory

Why we played together

To sustain the whole tribe

Some had to be cast aside.

So let us air those conditions

To these news corpses

Before we link arms

Plough shares on the Commons

Expose the silver tongued babies

To our good weather spooners

Let them sheik their booties

And wealth libidos

When we tighten our reef knots

On their shipping news isolation.


When we travel again

Let’s pay our pals properly

Embrace scream saver ideals

With welcome wagons

In no migrants here land

Savour the spaces they’d love

To return to after clutching

Tarpaulin Air B & B.

Go without agendas,

Files, flask or phone

Sample instead the slow ebb

Of dusty roadsides

Stall for pleasure

No longer

Bound by room service smiles.

Leave the hulking jumbos

Grounded in the strata

Of the time we didn’t preserve

The floating diesel prison hulks

Hiltons for barnacles and horse-shoe crab

Dancers of half billion year tides

Throw a message back at us.

Out of recycled bottles let us pluck

Renewed hope

For a great age of sail

Song and soul

Toast the Greta line

With carbon free bubbly

Salute dolphins off the port bow

Feel the salt sting of our futures.

Grieve not for the travel insurance companies

Their gilded psych-ops

Sleep walk us through

Jagged graph hinterlands

On stealth manoeuvres to deprive us

Of our sharing goals,

Let those in the hospitality sector

Open their doors to the rising sun

Singing out ‘bonvenon’

Without cold calls in haste,

They’ve put us on hold too long

Now we want the whole baggage tour

A planetary refund.


When we travel again

Let us learn a new language

To our Elders and

G- number theorists:

Stop stringing us along!

Speculate now on your high wire falls

Cushioned by love’s

Great transactions

Essential workers

Stopping your heads from

Falling into an empty basket

Of currencies.

Les Pauvres have shown the way

Let them lead you with mercy

Tweak your thumbs a little

At the cross roads

See you force an

Ordinary smile

Meet a devil of a re-education.

No longer need we sing the blues

From our kitchens

Choking frustrations,

This mote of dust

In a sunbeam

Can gleam in its hubris

Let it pass on then

Love’s hitchhiking genes

On the road

Of humility

Less travel

Is more.

© J.Purkis 2020

Annotations and influences

- ‘Nature bats last’ is the website name of controversial ecological scientist Guy MacPherson

- Robert Johnson’s famous hitchhiking song ‘Crossroads’ (1936)

- Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale

- The ‘Earth rise’ photo taken from Apollo 8 by William Anders

- Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot book.

- Herbert Gintis’ essay ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Altruism: Gene-culture Co-evolution, and the Internalization of Norms’, Journal of Theoretical Biology 220, (2003): 407–18. He notes how genes optimise cooperative solutions to ‘drive out norms that are both socially harmful and individually fitness reducing’. Similar work on the emergence of empathy as an evolutionary strategy appears in several books by Christopher Boehm.

- There’s a bit of nod to Simon Armitage’s uplifting 1999 poem ‘Couldn’t we just’ about ballooning.