Wednesday, 17 January 2018

The Darkest Hour Of The Safe Space Soldier

(The quotations to be read in your best imitation of Churchill, the rest in your best camp voice)

“We shall fight on the seas and the oceans”,
Though we shall stop, throughout the day,
Turn to the east,
Kneel down, bow low, and pray
At length.
“We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength
In the air,”
If we dare,
Because we are not super heroes,
And some of us are gay,
Which means more sensitive about not wanting to die,
But we’ll do our best and have a try.
“We shall fight on the landing grounds”
Though our landing craft are on loan
From the French. We won’t moan
About our lack of equipment
But we might cry, 
Because we are a regiment
Of big girls, which is perfectly OK.
“We shall defend our island
Whatever the cost may be.”
“We shall fight on the beaches,”
And take selfies and go skinny dipping in the sea,
And admire how basic training 
Has improved our glutes, our booty,
So now our little arses look just like peaches.
“We shall fight in the fields and in the streets”,
And it will be real, no cheats,
No jumping to the next level, it’s not a game,
Which is a shame,
Because the only reason I joined up 
Was because the recruiter said it was a ‘Call of Duty’.
“We shall fight in the hills”, even though they’re boring
And nobody takes any notice of you,
You’re not really seen,
Because there’s hardly anyone there,
Except fitness freaks
Deliberately ignoring
How good you look, because they’re jealous.
“We shall never surrender,”
As we’re sensitive and tender
And we wouldn’t want to spend time 
In a foreign prison, where they might be mean.
You see our island is our safe space,
And whatever your creed, gender, or race,
Gay or straight,
You have a right to live without hate,
You have a right to be free.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Project Fear

Project Fear

Because I cannot comprehend
The difference between a nation
And a commercial enterprise,
I shall assume that you, my lowly friend,
Are likewise ignorant.  I know that your frustration
With life cannot stem from the sudden rise
In immigration, 
Which only happened to coincide with what seemed to be the end
Of your community. I know that the determination
To make your neighbourhood diverse by increasing in size
The number of its members, not wishing to blend,
Fit in, adopt your customs, make any attempt at integration
Could not have had any ill effects, because the wise,
(That is, people like me) say so.  Instead, I contend
That what you really care about is your financial situation.
I know that you believe the lies
Of those old fashioned, prejudiced, populists, who tend
To appeal deliberately to the nostalgic, conservative population.
But I advise:
Turn a deaf ear, think only of the bottom line, do not defend
The past, or hanker after it.  Do not risk a depreciation
Of your capital assets.  Hark not to the hysterical cries
Of those who look to history, yet would rend
This carefully constructed veil, remove this modern veneer of civilisation,
Our brilliant new world, where only the poor must compromise,
And people like me can preach tolerance and send
Signals of virtue to those who share our political position.
Because this new status quo suits me, you should surmise
That it is also best for you.  I shan’t condescend
To speak of this again, I have given my instruction:
Vote to stick with the bureaucratic institution, do not cut the ties.


‘That untaught feeling’, 
‘That mass of predispositions’,
Those habits, customs, traditions,
That in built intuition
Of ready application,
That propensity towards civilisation
Resistant to innovation,
Safeguard against modern confusion,
Immune to abstract speculation,
Born of collective wisdom.
Those instinctive reactions
Shaped by nations,
The cumulative knowledge of what is right,
Absorbed like light,
By generations
Of new leaves on the ancient tree,
Watered and fed 
By the xylem and phloem, society,
To become something enduring,
Lignified, dignified,

Protective, reassuring.

Friday, 5 January 2018

A Poem For My Brother, To His Lost Lady

I miss you Myf,
Though you were miffed,
Your mood your name made manifest,
You’re gone and now I’m cast adrift,
Astray, alone, because a tif
Proved more, a powerful catalyst.
I tried to be the minimalist
The ‘moved on’ man,
But, just like you, could not resist
The force of all the pleasant past,
Could not deny that I exist
As molecules of history
Mixed up with those of present day.
I wish my present mood would lift,
But no new cure will ease dull care,
No modern, mindless mindfulness,
Shall make me focus on despair,
I shan’t be getting really pissed,
And neither shall I smoke a splif,
Because I am myself, you see,
The man I was, am, and will be.
So much missed Myf,
We near epiphany
And mine is this:
I know that memory must decay,
Yet I’m aware it will insist
On shaping much of who I am,
I’m not new made, nor nihilist.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

The People’s Tree

The Anglo Saxon attitude of Ash:
Less noble, demanding less attention
Than the oak, means each space, each gash,
Each emptiness, each eradication,
Will come as something of a strange surprise
Because we hardly knew that it was there.
Yet we depended on its strength.  And wise
To its reliability, lacked care.
We took fore granted, did not write in praise,
Describing it at length, nor mentioned how:
It filtered light upon the floor, to raise
Great drifts of subtle flora, made the plough
That Piers pushed, axe handles and the bow.
Perhaps the bow that Robin used to good effect
To cure the pompous of their arrogance and show
All men are equal, though the lowly, poor,
Were subject, as their real Lord, yet free
In spirit, which is really free: to bend,
Lend shelter, act in charity,
To grow, be quite cut down,
Yet rise again, anew,
To reach great heights and then to send
In faith, a seed, a single blade propelled by hope
Far into the future, at the field’s edge, and cope
With weather, cattle, such adversity
As every living entity must do. Then come to be
A new, familiar thing, made of its history,
With quiet, decent, humble dignity,
A giant, formed by light and liberty,
A wondrous, brave, majestic thing, a tree.


It seems, as if in answer to the adolescent need
To turn one’s back on all that one loved best
And walk into the world and then to test
Each old idea which had been as seed
From which the current self had grown,
One had despaired.
For on finding there were blooms more dazzling bright,
More gaudy; hybrids bred for trumpeting their right
To dominate the public parks, be shown;
The latest, greatest, must have, modern craze
One had offered up one’s soul
For hybridising treatment, so the whole,
Native flower were wiped out.  To erase
The subtle beauty of the wild thing
So fitted for the soil, the cold, damp air,
Had been one’s mission and one’s only care
To emulate the fashionable, bring
Something of that showy, new florescence
In the juvenile belief that it would thrive,
Take over.  Full of joy, and still alive,
One believed one could acquire a new quintessence.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

In The Small Hours

Once again, I am quite wide awake,
Reading articles, because my head’s already full,
Not reading deeply, for the sake
Of gaining knowledge, growing wise,
Not gleaning among husks, for what is true
Or making some great leap
Towards a better understanding of my fellow man.
But simply (as I have no other plan,
For getting through the hours before the dawn,
And since others dream at peace within the room,
And I must a long and quiet stillness keep)
As a means of drying out my eyes,
As over brightly glowing sentences they scan,
Searching for something even slightly new.
Yet I find nothing and am soothed, by what is dull,
Despite the back lit, radiant, garish glare,
As this only serves to make the deep black-blue,
A darker shade of velvet doom and gloom,
And fits my mood: ennui and weary care.
And thus I stumble back to slumber 
And the path is sudden, steep.
Bored, my silly brain falls back to sleep.