People cannot help themselves.
Half-awake, hurtling in convoy
through Exmoor’s Christmas frosted fields,
A tin toy snuggled against a tree ahead

is a sports car screwed into the base of a tree
in frost-stiffened grass, scrunched Christmas paper,
three constables shuffling against the cold
and a helpless ambulance loading her corpse.

It slows our convoy faster than any appeal to reason
or snooping eye. It cuts to the point.
We rubberneckers drive on just below the limit
and curse oncoming cars for reckless fools.

Too late. A lifetime’s trove of small crimes,
Sins tossed lightly aside, creeps into the car
and up the spine; we are witless skeletons
wrapped in thin weak skin and rags, callous

and riding an outlandish streak of luck
that could at any instant come to a stop.
The ambulance bears a precision bomb,
About to be dropped on one suburban home,

Where the blast will wreck three lives, perhaps four,
Some more will feel the shock waves
with diminishing violence, then it fades
and is forgotten with the rest

in fifteen minutes, back now on the M5
planning New Year. At the junction for Wells
we ease onto the accelerator to overtake.
People cannot help themselves.

January 09

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