I - The Tangled Web, Tiffany Francis-Baker

Drawing of birds on berry tree
Illustration credit: Tiffany Francis-Baker

The Tangled Web by Tiffany Francis-Baker, a poem for our centenary project writers in the forest.


The empire is a wasteland
beneath the barren air
that drifts on, blanched and blistering,
over the dead that wander there.
The empire is a wasteland,
but once was nothing less
than paradise, a tangled web,
a golden wilderness.
First came the iron claws to rip
the ancient hedgerows down,
and every blackthorn fruit that fell
was bathed, sterilised, drowned;
Round Up! Round Up! Bring out your dead,
a pool of glyphosate,
eradicate the earth itself
to kill the life we hate.
The wasps were caught in jam jars for
they had no useful purpose
(except to pollinate the crops) -
No, the wasps were surplus.
The ground was pumped with concrete
and the ocean swam with glass
and plastic shards, and all the air
became a poison gas.
And where once stood a copper beech,
and where the river crept,
the white sun spread a fever as
the baked earth, broken, slept.
No birds now pour their evening song
into the darkling sky;
The empire is a wasteland,
a world condemned to die.

Read more

badger illustration

The Tangled Web - part II

deer illustration

The Tangled Web - part III

pine marten illustration

The Tangled Web - part IV

Snake illustration

The Tangled Web - part V