I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Joyce Kilmer 1888 -1918
(For Mrs. Henry Mills Alden)


Hit the Road

What can I do with a wood?
What can it do for me?
Put your foot in it, get lost in it
Scratch your name on a tree

What can you do with a wood?
What can it do for you?
You can live in it lie in it love in it laugh in it
Any of these will do

What can we do with a wood?
How can we make it pay?
We could all drive fast get past in a flash
if the wood wasn’t in the way

What can we do with a wood?
What can it do for us?
We want six lanes then another one for trains
& a deregulated bus

What do we want with a wood
in a busy modern town?
We need to get about so there isn’t any doubt
all the trees will have to come down

Wouldn’t be so bad if it was pylons
or poles for telegraph wires
that can jangle words like vocal cords
but trees? Chuck them in the fire.

We want cut & cover, hit & run
JCBs & a trench.
If your financier can’t get it clear
then it’s time to change your branch

A man needs to put his foot down
whenever he feels the whim
when his head’s in a mess from urban stress
& his lungs are out on a limb

So slam the door of your 4 by 4
let me hear that seat belt clunk
It’s time to hit the road again
it’s time to pack your trunk

Woods are OK for children
but childhood’s only brief
then it’s time to depart for a brand new start
turn over a brand new leaf

We are the men of progress
dipping headlights in the dark
we’re backed by the banks backed up by tanks
& our bite’s even worse than our bark

The sun in the trees glows amber
but it’s clear enough in our head
you got to get mean when the world goes green
it’ll set when it turns red

So it’s time to turn the tidal flow
& stop the men in suits
reject the goods, reclaim the woods
get back down to your roots

When all the world is concrete
& there’s no-where left to dig
will they still want to borrow like there’s no tomorrow
or do you think they’ll finally twig?

What can you do with a wood?
Where in the world do we start?
Does it know how to heal the hole you feel
between your head & your heart?

Does it whisper from high places
where once the child in you played?
Does it hold any cures for your innermost sores
down its avenues of shade?

When your figures are worse than you’d figured
& your bank manager’s words
on a badly-typed letter make you need to feel better
come & listen to the birds

When your poetic licence has expired
& your tongue fails its MOT
when your nerves are in a mess from urban stress
go & listen to a tree

It’ll cool your spleen under canopies of green
to give the grass its due
It’ll calm your care, it’ll clean your air
that’s what a wood will do for you.



Michael Bruce


Here's a live audio recording of this poem: rough and ropey sound, but with the atmosphere of a live poetry pub gig:


Hit the Road.mp3


a suggested link: Andy's tree poem

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