Letter to the Earth and Other Poems : Regina v Oates

Presented here is a small number of poems – a mini-pamphlet’s worth -written following an initial invitation to take part in Culture Declares Emergency’s Bath event in the Spring of 2019. My own Letter to the Earth – which I read aloud in Walcot Chapel – was written first, together with On Waterloo Bridge, and What if?, on the eve of Extinction Rebellion’s International Rebellion. I wrote the remainder in two separate periods in 2019, and 2020. The 2019 sequence was ‘Highly Commended’ in Red Line Art Works’ Annual Awards in 2019.  Follow the links below to access the poems, presented here in reverse order.

Regina v Oates

We met in April last year Regina.

You wore blue.

I wore beige.

You said there was nothing to worry about;

Bade me move from where I stood;

Then arrested me,

Unlawfully.


You asked me for my personal details, Regina;

Put my things in a bag;

Tried to ID my phone.

You said it was to see whether it was stolen;

Asked whether I was dependent on any substances,

And smiled when I said,

‘Water.’


You put me in a locked cell, Regina,

On a school-gym-blue mat,

Opposite an excrement-caked seatless toilet.

You said that’s nothing to worry about

When I heard a young man’s cries – and banging – not being attended to;

And brought me ready-meal and water,

And Watership Down.


You probed inside my mouth, Regina,

For my DNA;

Took fingerprints and photographs.

You said there was someone here to see me;

Gave me pills for sunstroke and stomach;

And released me under investigation,

Around midnight.


We met again, in August, Regina.

You wore navy, or grey, or black.

I wore grey.

You said little to me on that occasion,

Beyond acknowledging my plea;

Comporting yourself badly, for a court of law;

And convicting several like me.


We met twice more in December, Regina.

Your dress was the same.

So was mine.

You said the causal nexus was too weak to support a defence of necessity;

Asked whether I had heard Jonathan Freedland on Radio 4;

And convicted my fellow defendants,

And me.


I did not appeal your verdict, Regina.

Likely unsound,

My advice was you’d not decide on legal grounds.

You said you’d not punish me without further offence,

Imposed costs,

Victim surcharge,

And a record hence.


I saw footage of you on television this year, Regina.

You wore pink,

Or some pastel shade, I think.

I know you said ‘We’ll meet again.’

Well we might o’er the 65,000 more than usual you’ve killed, year-to-date.

For them, the causal nexus was stronger;

The reform of your character – still outstanding – too late.