This light-hearted poem was inspired by local voices of dissent in my hometown of Folkestone, which has seen significant investment in recent years through projects including the Folkestone Triennial.
The Ballad of Gabby Godden
She walks on pebbles, not the path
Which is her enemy.
A drifting raft of driftwood bars
She scorns dismissively,
“Yet another new addition
To decorate the sea.”
A sea that needed nothing else,
That is her birthright, still
And the sleeping town beside it,
Though these artworks never will
Be hers. “Heaven knows what they mean,
But I’ll still pay the bill!”
“They say, ‘Folkestone is an art school’
What’s the use in learning?
My heart’s filled with cobbled hills and
Let former glories rest, say I,
Some tides aren’t for turning.”
Under a disused church bell (“art”),
She hears a silent tower
And pities poor parishioners
Who would not know the hour
When their home town’s glamour gifted
Other people power.
She heard silence for the first time
Without remembered noise.
No fresh doughnuts in paper bags,
No sticky arcade toys,
No airless hockey tables or
Kisses on rides with boys.
“But what do I know about art?”
She starts her up-shore climb,
Missing the bell’s inscription
Which read: ‘OUT OF TIME.’