At some point every generation thinks it’s the last.
This usually happens
when people are young enough to still believe
they are immortal. If they must die
then the whole world dies with them.
We went on CND marches, assembled
at candlelit vigils in Trafalgar Square, wore T-shirts
that said
and where the A of Authority
was circled to read as an anarchy sign.
Armageddon was a BIG and serious thing
that was just about to happen. Only we could keep
the blinding white flash and the mushroom cloud
out of our bedrooms. Our tender flesh
barbecued down to the bone.
The end would be so quick
we wouldn’t have time to lose our virginity.

Now weapons are more precise
and can be fired into tin cans rattling with kids.
The new end is a slow, thirsty
retreat into a scarce and foliage-free world,
where trees are rare as pandas and inedible fish
swim up limpet-encrusted escalators
in submerged shopping centres. The sea
is a faded temptress lapping at a mountain
of empty Evian bottles. Every now and then
she tosses her oil-black locks and throws up
a catch of jiggling fibula, old sofa carcasses
and millions of silver CDs. Schools of flat laptops
litter pavements that have become beaches;
from a distance they look like skate.
Anything that can be burnt as firewood is burnt.
This will be the battle for x, y, z generation:
each more hungry than the last.

Once again we pray to the sun – our merciless God.