Ben Ray


Stepping off the silk road

Alexander the Great never came to these shores
But if he had, he’d have been surprised:
There is nothing here, all quiet, empty cliffs.
In 330AD, Byzantine was re-founded
as New Rome, the centre of the world
The Silk Road snaked its gluttonous body
Through the heart of the continent
And the Baltic states were drained of life
To dress the East in gold and consequence.
When Alexander cried salt tears at the Indus
After he had conquered the whole world
He sent us spinning into nonexistence,
Sleeping in the wake of his countless ships.
And now we yell out to him in our whisper
Of self-importance and pomposity,
Staring into the mirror of our own navel
And moaning of liberalism and legitimacy.
Augustine told us not to think, but to do
And we listened devoutly, carving out
Our own image from our own image
Without our lips ever touching the Indus:
And as Alexander again lowers his head at its banks
And Bhutan, Rwanda, Iran grow strong
We do not step out of our own echoes
And notice, for perhaps the first time
How small our shadow really is.


Ben Ray is an intrepid young poet and Oxford student from the Welsh borders. He has recently published his debut collection ‘After the poet, the bar’ with Indigo Dreams Publishing after winning the Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize.