Al Mcclimens: a poem


Photograph by Denise Setterington


Elegy Written on the Back of a Fag Packet


The park sycamore is wearing its seasonal jacket,

all misty shades of faded heather, gorse and Keats.

And this elegy was written on the back of a fag packet.


But what's it about? Well, the whole thing's a racket

anyway. I only do the typing. So, meaning, huh? Beats

me. And the park sycamore is wearing its seasonal jacket


like it's posing for a magazine photo shoot. Jack it

in, I say. We should protest, organise, reclaim the streets.

And this elegy was written on the back of a fag packet


while Rome burned. Literature, however you stack it

up, struggles to say much. In arguments the world defeats

the word. The park sycamore is wearing its seasonal jacket


while the sun goes down in flames (open bracket –

this is a metaphor – close bracket) as the afternoon retreats.

And this elegy was written on the back of a fag packet.


So, what have we learned? Apart from I can't hack it

anymore and smoking kills while poetry just bleats

quietly. The park sycamore is wearing its seasonal jacket

and this elegy was written on the back of a fag packet.



Al McClimens graduated from Sheffield Hallam University’s MA Writing programme in 2017. He has subsequently had work published in Magma, The Morning Star and online in Riggwelter and Dodging the Rain. His debut collection was published by Pindrop Press in early 2021.