The Multiverse

In one world, it’s all slides and tinkling laughter

A monkey rolls you tangerines

And sunshine shows you what you’re after,

With not a flicker. Solar-powered machines

Propel new towns

Above the hills of Martian moons

While, back on Earth, dull frowns

Transmute to sheer elation in hot air balloons.


But it’s a different story in this other world:

Impulsive rocks

Splat pioneers. The hasty flocks

Of herons push an aeroplane off course,

And in the navel of volcanoes what is curled

But imminent destruction,

Eruptive force

And, diametric, slow, some distant plate’s subduction?


Still, I that former world, the life is lucky.

The lovers? They are always true.

The heroes are sincere and plucky.

Your footsteps know, by instinct, what to do.

For now at least,

Warmongers reach a compromise

And shares of land are pieced

Between free shepherds who rejoice below clear skies.


But elsewhere God or restless mathematics meant

To fix it so

That days are short and passions go.

We can’t imagine what the reason is

It chances that, for all our intricate intent,

We stall where we begin.

To notice this

Can change one’s spin on life, if not the quantum spin.

from The Multiverse (Carcanet, 2018), © Andrew Wynn Owen 2018, used by permission of the author.

The free tracks you can enjoy in the Poetry Archive are a selection of a poet’s work. Our catalogue store includes many more recordings which you can download to your device.


Featured in the archive