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Blog - Richard Downes

Declaration 5; The Tree And the Apartment Block AKA Cruelty and What It Gets


Another from the conservation campaign I found myself involved in.Declaration 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads; No one shall be subjected to

torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
First duet I ever wrote. I know it works. I’ve tried it.

I imagine myself at a reading. I do this poem with Wendy Young. Wendy caps it with No Go Soho. And I wonder how many poets got involved in conservation and then i wondered if every poem conserved a moment.

Declaration 5: The Tree and the Apartment Block AKA Cruelty and What It Gets Ya

(He) and (She)

(He) I live here
(She) We live here
(He)In this square
(She) One storey Up
(He) Embedded in the earth
(She) Floating in concrete
(He) Deep Communal Roots
(She) In love with her
(He)30 years
(She) 30 years and more
(He) I live well
(She) It’s been good
(He) I feel strong
(She) We have loved
(He) I dig in
(She) We sleep, we dream
(He) For today they come
(She) For tomorrow they threaten
(He)To chop into my space
(She) To demolish and destroy
(He) To cut into the soil
(She) 3 Victorian Villas
(He) Hack away with shovels
(She) Drive in the heavy metal
(He) Today they hurt
(She) Today our lives are broken
(He) Grab and grasp and grapple
(She) Bulldoze beloved buildings
(He) Tie me up with ropes
(She) Swing the wrecking ball
(He) And pull and yank and tear
(She) Raising dirt and dust and debris
(He) At my lodgings
(She) Next to where we live
(He) Tearing apart my tendrils
(She) The noise that we are hearing
(He) Scattering my children
(She) The darkness we are facing
(He) Away from the true branch
(She) The light we are forsaking
(He) They lift me away
(She) We need to get away
(He) Into the air without water
(She) To leave our friends and neighbours
(He) Hooded by tarpaulin
(She) Our heads pushed into sand
(He) A rope around my girth
(She) The ties we have to break
(He) Waiting for release
(She) Await a brand new day
(He) Cleaved into a new hole
(She) Another place to live
(He) A new place
(She) A new town full of strangers
(He) A ghetto of their choosing
(She) A new place full of dangers
(He) And yet I find
(She) And yet we find
(He) I find within
(She) We find within
(He) The will to sustain
(She) Our lives carry on
(He) And carry on
(She) And carry on and on
(He) And wish for those tendrils
(She) And wish for those we knew
(He) Left behind to grow
(She) To always know us well
(He) And burst and rupture through
(She) And find a voice that grows
(He) Concrete covering my former home
(She) To speak up for their homes

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Wendy Young

Be proud to perform this with you Richard!