This was commissioned by the Worthing Herald for National Poetry Day; I’d marked the previous National Poetry Day by being poet in residence, writing poems about the week’s news. This poem was supposed to celebrate the way that the paper was part of the fabric of life in the town, from the hills to the beach; thoroughly there at every moment in everyday life. The editor thought it was just encouraging people to burn the paper so he didn’t print it.
We rose early and
made paper aeroplanes
from pages of last week’s paper;
we threw them from the highest point
of tattered Teville Gate,
and watched them drift over
the empty, old Norfolk Hotel;
further south towards the Town Hall tower;
and west towards the Creative Quarter.
We made banners from the sports pages
and waved them high as we marched for Fair Trade
and against Tetra masts.
We wrapped morning-caught fish
in the small ads,
ate our local catch with chips for lunch.
Later we made an armada of paper boats
and launched them from the landing stage
of the Art Deco pier;
watched them drift in the lazy late afternoon sun,
west to Littlehampton and out
to the distant, just-visible Isle of Wight.
And as the sun set we stood on Highdown hill
and lit the fire under a hot air balloon
(a two foot wide ball of twisted withy sticks
and pages from the business section and glue)
and watched it float high over Worthing
before it was lost in the fading light
and caught by its own flames.