UCL Institute for Global Prosperity


'Seize the present': A poem by Cameron Holleran

26 February 2019

'Seize the present' is the latest poem from IGP Poet-in-Residence Cameron Holleran, created especially for "SDGeneration: A Citizen Science Movement", a joint conference organised by the IGP and London International Development Centre


Seize the present

I lie on a sofa that I do not own, that is too small,

is an ugly colour that I would never choose and worry

what the anthropologists will make of me. 


These were the people who lived close together and all alone.

I know the sound of my neighbour's

footsteps through the ceiling and I think

I know what it would sound like

if she fell and lay immobile.


These were the times when poverty existed.

I haven't been poor for about four years now.

I keep my cupboards well stocked and ready

for the next time my luck changes. I keep a spare can opened

underneath my bed. It might be worth something one day.


Those were the days when the city choked.

I told my doctor that I'd taken up running,

had been doing it regularly for about half a year

but still found it difficult

to breathe, needing long intakes like

I had gone out snorkelling with a drinking straw.

Have you seen the golden shimmer

in the air all through the summer? she said. That is why you cannot breathe.

This was when London was still being built.

London is a city of flickering cranes at night. The predictable consequence

of intergenerational precedent. We've spent centuries knocking it down,

trying again. Maybe this time we can get it right.


Beneath my head, a castor underneath the sofa's wheel cracks

and I am rushed out of my thoughts. Tomorrow, to protect

a floor I do not own, I will buy a new one from a Robert Dyas store.

There's two on my way into work and one that I

can walk to through a small park by the children's hospital on my lunch

and I think of the future no more.