The Ox Cart, Pete Cox

The Ox Cart

listen here ~

Bird song as I gaze into glazed
Blank eyes of the Ox Cart
Thirty-plus years ago
Mates’ band tentatively played
Trio running at rock covers
Plus couple of original songs
Rambling weeds grown from
Seeds of my own writing
Early ‘eighties standard fare
Rush, Quo, Purple
Two 45-minute sets
Strung out with “One you
Heard earlier but
We’ve had a request to repeat”
Thin audience of mid-week
Drinkers moved here from London
Nursing pints, cigarette smoke
Thickening dart flights
Five years earlier The Now sang
“Development Corporations
Another excuse for dictations”
Birdsong bursting from branches
Gnarled, scarred, battered by storms
Trees as old men
Planted thick through the early-‘70s
Nurtured on commercial nurseries
Brought here to provide heavy work
Hawthorne, Ash, Beach, Birch,
Sycamore and many more
Township offering fresh hope
For Londoners raised on
Victorian streets – here
Homes of their own, gardens
Community heating system
And public greens sculpted
With rolls reflecting
Pub’s poker night poster
City grown on smoke
From brickyard chimneys

Stone hard hewed from Barnack
Shipped to fen churches
Glowing warm beneath June rays

Birdsong from field boundaries
An ox cart at its heart
These farms feeding market
Meeting in Cathedral Square
These beasts that once
Built a whole world
When men realised they
Could tame bull
Power could be harnessed
To raise megaliths
Monuments, pyramids
Tribes might work together
To remake their landscape
While farm overseers’ talk
Of distant London city
Cathedral stands high above
Thatched rows, thin smoke
From brick chimneys
The oxen, brown eyed
Chewing cud, waiting for
The order to drag wagon once more

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