York Olympic Torch Relay Twitter Poems: Along the Way

Posted on 27 June 2012 | Poem, Audio

York Olympic Torch Relay Twitter Poems: Along the Way

Tadcaster Road

It’s here! It’s here!
First come the sponsors

in bright red and blue buses,
bright young things dancing on top,

then at last the runner with his flame,
all in white, so young, so slight,
so proud.

He’s gone, too fast,
Towards town.
Crowds follow,
Trying to keep up.

Most return home,
Down every side street.
A whole neighbourhood came.

Lendal Bridge

Grandma points her autofocus,
grandson smiles and waves the Torch: his white suit cue to view.

He doesn’t run: he vogues!

Six form classmates kneel by Gran, and call, and cheer him on.

Coney Street

A ripple of cheer a loud applause. White and gold flies past. Blink and it’s missed.

St Helens Square

Locals and visitors in the know race backstreets to see again gold funnel with flicker-flame that signals—briefly—we are one.

St Helen’s Square: Kid on bike, kid on rails, and Polish woman clings koalabear to dodgy scary spikes: “Come up! Fun!” she urges, extends hand, encourages. I leap. She smiles “Good time!” she grins. Yes.

Up Coney, convoy of motorcycle cops lead the way. Yellow vested officer faces us, but his mouth twitches to an almost-smile. Like Buckingham bears, he does not turn or even peek, maintains his station. “Doncha want to see?” I yell, but he doesn’t move, does not respond, maintains his guard.

King’s Square

York is no stranger to fire:
Romans, Vikings scorched the streets,
A torch was to be feared,
People hid their faces and fled.
All symbol now, crowds line the streets for a sighting,
Strain for the footfall and flare.

Flags and floats and swathes of bells,
Guitarists entertaining us.
Then at a walk the bearer
Brings the sacred flame
So near home
And a pigeon leaves an auspice on his shoulder.
[not really: the pigeon poohed on writer] [yes: really did]

Coney Street

Walk down Coney, covered with kids. Punters take pictures of pillars, exposed by Blitz; a band preps to play.

Quit trying to chase torch, to push thru crowds that fair & square held place by 4. Watch helicopters hover, enjoy various bands, sounds blending at the edges of their domain.

Re-join the herd migrating to Clifford tower: thinned crowds by Dungeon-again, a glimpse; and bells begin to ring.

Everyone buzzes, 5 yr olds after too much cake and candy, the party over.

A girl in red asks “When does it come by?” I say “it passed, on the way to Skeldergate, somewhere that way”, wave vaguely, add “I should know better, I’ve lived here a few years”. “I’ve lived here three days!” she glows, “three days!”

It’s all for you, I tell her, arm sweeping in the copters, the crowds, “all this! the torch, the people, all to welcome you to York”. Smiles and says, “to welcome both of us” and glides off, bright with glee.


Crowds leaving anticipating the rush
Of adrenaline, of unaccustomed cheering
Afraid that they will be delayed from bus
From train, from home
Where tea and teevee beckon
From where they watch
Without the rush of being there.
They saw, but neither came nor conquered
They were not there – I was!

Knavesmire/ Racecourse

Crowds thronging
bands playing
the torch is coming through town.
Expectation; trepidation;

Petergate and home

Shops open late, queues for fish & chips, punters watch buskers who wisely stayed on.

A day when worries and money woes were put aside, cynicism set down, flags raised, more joy than I’d anticipated. More joy than did they.

Strangers part for strangers, tots allowed thru crowd, visitors reach to tug unknowns onto railings, share single handhold, dip heads to share the view.

Tonight, camaraderie, fraternity; may it linger in the mind and sweeten a bitter heart next week, month, season, year.

Flame sputters, flares,
but it’s us who spark,
spectators who blaze with fiery joy
at belonging to a sliver of history.
Can we afford this?
Who cares?
Right now, world watches the Torch,
watches York,
runners arms raised with a safer sword of conquest,
a benign patriotism,
a moment of national celebration.

Knavesmire/ Racecourse

Across the Knavesmire, helicopters
and a thousand distant voices
blend to a thumping beat.

Cheers go skywards,
the cauldron is lit
but the figures on stage
are too small to see.
The atmosphere is enough.

Thousands on thousands
fill the stadium, sit on grass,
picnic, talk, enjoy the sun.

Toddlers toddle down hurdle tracks,
Tots try tennis, throw balls.

Girls and boys play basketball,
Queue for rides on a mechanical horse,
It’s sport for all.

We needed this:
Something to celebrate;
A lovely day when for weeks
Rain and gloom have filled the news.

It was Carnival time;
York at its best;
The city en fete,
Having a Ball.

- Vicki Bartram, Rose Drew, Alan Gillott, Pauline Kirk and Tanya Nightingale