States of Poetry Series Three - ACT | 'Road Closed' by Paul Munden

Road Closed

was emphatic,
but the rusty sign
hung on an open gate,
allowing him to kid himself
and drive on through –
up the narrow sandy track
in an erratic

of hairpin bends
towards the summit,
and as he continued,
with ever less option
to reverse, he began to forget
the warning, his lapsed

judgement eclipsed
by glimpses of magnificence
beyond – hills, folding
to a pale blue
infinity –
until the sudden, huge stone
fallen into the road.

He felt the absurdity
as he tried first to move it,
then – back in the car, holding
his nerve – to gauge the space
between rock
and scarp,
all to within an inch

of his life.
And for what? –
the view from the top?
His sense of privilege
was equally a trespass
on the sublime;
He longed to remain

in the melancholy
of his private wilderness
with time
and empty sky his friends,
rather than once again
face the crumbling precipice
of his own folly.

Paul Munden

Paul Munden

Paul Munden

Paul Munden has published five collections, most recently The Bulmer Murder (Recent Work Press, 2017) and Chromatic (UWA Publishing, 2017). He was reader for Stanley Kubrick from 1988–98, and has been Director of the UK’s National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) since 1994. He has worked as conference poet for the British Council and edited Feeling the Pressure: poetry and science of climate change (British Council, 2008). In 2015 he took up a position as Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Canberra, where he is also Program Manager for the International Poetry Studies Institute (IPSI), running the annual Poetry on the Move festival. He is Associate Editor of Axon: Creative Explorations and the literary journal, Meniscus, and co-editor with Nessa O’Mahony of Metamorphic: 21st century poets respond to Ovid (Recent Work Press, 2017).

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.