Do you remember how we thought the world would end
With spindly, giant, robot legs above Big Ben?
With Martian crane flies, tower-block high, stalking
Above a boiling Thames; Putney and Dorking
Vaporised, Sidcup in flames; Romney and Hythe
Choked with the dead? How we would watch them stride,
Across the world, triumphant, turning scattering crowds to slag?
Or perhaps it was a clutch of long-forgotten eggs,
Back in the shadows of a cave, found by a shepherd
Boy. They hatch; next comes a gaggle of Grendels, hydra-headed
Monsters looming over panicked towns, doomed
Villages. tvs across the globe, above bars, in family rooms
Smelling of dinner and children, would all show
(In this Technicolour ending, folk-devil, overblown
By Hollywood for the silver screen) the dismantling
Of Man’s dominion, his only earth unravelling.
New York: anarchy, looting, burning banks;
Prague: a charnel house; Moscow: all ablaze;
In Adelaide, Hong Kong, bulldozers fill mass graves.
Then all across the world, the screens go blank.
And yet it was far simpler than all that:
No alien, star-come cylinder shimmering in a London park;
Just exponential growth, a well-filled tank,
The lunatic sprawl of concrete and tarmac;
No shining metal feelers slithering out of the pit;
Just the warming ice shelf’s interminable drip.
No comet bearing bacilli, no solar flash;
Just an infinity of fingers, feeling for that small key in the dash.