In a Critical State Beside Madrid’s Inner Ring Road


The crumbling rumble-road lined with London planes,

Incongruously named in the land of El Cid,

With its twenty-six per cent unemployed and its jamón imported from Hungary and relabelled.

Petty corruption.

On a grander scale: the high-speed railway line that zigs and zags to hurry across Party lands,

And the airport as silent as Civil War graves that they moved from A to B and they won’t allow you root around in.

Is there a place for me amidst the bulls’ blood-spattered dust, mad-dog wandering in the death-ray sun?

Pushing past the grey tide,

All the young that were never born,

All the young that have gone.

Impatient middle age sounds its horns as traffic comes to a complete stop.

They’re running me off the road, these so-called baby boomers.

They debar me from feeling hope.

I watch the families turning over stinking, sloppy bags in the bins — dining à la shopping carte,

And the old man checking the parking meters for spare change.

It is as if the jugglers harassing disinterested drivers at the traffic lights are also playing fast and free with my optimism here by the M30.

A fumble, a slip of the hand and it lands on bone-dry ground, trickles down through pulverous, ashy soil.


About ucronin

Microbiologist, brewer, writer, fan of James Joyce, guitar player and gardener, U. Cronin was born in the county town of Ennis, Co. Clare. He's spent much of his adult years moving country — between Spain and Ireland — and at present he is to be found back in his native town. Author of five novels and working on a sixth, U. is back in the lab and engaging his passion for looking for bugs using very bright lasers. Let's hope it turns out well!
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