By Conor Henry

Photography by Jennifer Reynolds. Her profile is available in the Art & Photography section.

“From Stone Age to
Space Age, how we’ve
grown,” he nods,
“oh how far we’ve come,
from iron, sticks, and stone.”
The social flourish, the industrial
scale – our study of Before
gives gravity to Now.
“And oh, the human cost,
how dreadful – and PR!
A disaster of appearance,
a terrible progress setback.”
Terrible, so terrible, how
bad they looked to the World,
how badly we were delayed
in Progress – moving forward,
pushing past Now and into
the Future.

How terrible, yet, the burnt, rotted
bones and breath of Apollo’s first
launch – from quiver to sky, rising
and falling in flames like His star.
How terrible, yet, the bloodied, broken,
bristled bodies of children – they were
only children. From the sky comes
Judgement, a napalm Rapture.

How terrible, yet, the scale of
destruction, the calamity of vanity,
this surface-level empathy.
Love is a survival instinct,
in our world of mirrors and screens.
Compassion only counts if it dances
for the cameras.
Survival at the top of headlines, survival
in the Public Eye.
Survival – Before, Now, and Forever –
like the fierce, bald General, toddling
safely home.

We shake our heads, sing
the “oh, how sad” sing-song.
We sigh, turn the page
and continue to speak of

“At least we learnt from it.”

Yes, from these lesson-learnt,
Time-trodden graves.

Conor Henry

I am a poet and writer – though, purely in the sense of I write, and am yet to publish anything! My queerness is deeply important to my writing, and though it doesn’t feature in this work, it has in many others. This poem I feel is the best of my works to fulfill the category of ‘Progression’ – it is my feelings on the callous, apathetic way we treat history and how the progress of time detaches us further and further from the experiences of real human suffering. I’d say additionally, progress features here in how much importance we place on industrial and technological progress, instead of focusing on human life, compassion, etc.

CategoriesIssue III