Return to Tunbridge Wells

by Bryan Murphy

So eager to escape we were,
our hormones smashing at the bars
of the city fathers’ mindset, our synapses
snapping for adventure in the pearl-filled world,
unseen, but known to lie beyond bland Downs
and England’s catatonic Garden.

We left, shaped the ways we failed,
snatched small successes,
explored the contours of alien cultures,
revelled or shrivelled in different confinements,
survived or died.

The railway station appears smaller,
though it is not. Vampire trains
still suck the town’s blood for London.
Mammon and Art have taken over churches,
commerce coagulated on the fringe.

Tranquillity rules on the tree-covered Common,
a glory of civic socialism with true-blue guardians.
No gun rounds resonate down residential roads
decorated with wall-to-wall car parking.

The façades stand like a film set,
shelters for stable lives in constant change.
A patina of smugness distorts the view.

A pensioners’ town. Now I am one,
this quiet offers balm not suffocation,
its peace an exotic treat to savour,
a taste to linger on, forget the cost.

Decision time. Stay, and stake a claim
for a garden plot for ashes,
sink into soft mud where time is slow,
or take ageing brain and body
away to a more real world
for recharge or final breakdown?

Bryan Murphy recently retired after an itinerant career as an English teacher and translator.

  1. #1 by jennyP on April 5, 2012 - 8:46 am

    Knowing Tunbridge Wells as I do and having been a surrey commuter for years, this resonates. Back to one’s roots……….I loved it.

  2. #2 by robertkharding on April 5, 2012 - 9:39 am

    This is excellent Brian. Spiky with … ? The deterioration of the common is my favourite part.
    Take the ageing body away. I know Tunbridge. It’s a cracking piece. I wonder what you’ll write next.

  3. #3 by Anthony Ward on April 5, 2012 - 2:56 pm

    Brilliant Poem.

  4. #4 by Vikki (The View Outside) on April 6, 2012 - 6:40 am

    I LOVE Tunbridge Wells :)

    Great poem!


  5. #5 by Bryan Murphy on April 14, 2012 - 10:57 am

    Thank you Jenny, Robert, Anthony and Vikki for your comments. Much appreciated!

  6. #6 by Bryan Murphy on October 28, 2013 - 10:52 am

    Thank you Rachelle, for your encouragement.

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