Friday, 31 May 2019

On Patriotism in the Army (Battle of Danny Boy)

As skidding to a halt, returning fire
from in the turret, we men in the back
sat listening to the endless rounds, spray up,
the language in our minds was vile, obscene
for we’d been sent to counter the attack.
About fifteen militia, maybe ten,
popped up, engaged, got down, all zig zag hid
entrenched in desert sand, not in the mire
of some historic gas polluted scene.
We followed orders, no time to weigh up,
we fought as British men have done, we did
what we set out to do, which you’d admire
if we were not your fellow countrymen.

We zig zagged, leap frogged our positions then
went down upon one knee, returned the blast,
and step by step we closed in on the trench
and some surrendered, threw down guns, at last.
We  saw the shocked expressions in the eyes
of those who had not thought we’d take the fight
to them, and sensing quick defeat some ran,
yet where they’d run we could not really tell.
Almost as great as theirs was our surprise
at making it this far, yet we began
to follow training, not our instincts, which
were blind, defeatist, unreliable,
we did what we’d been trained to know was right.

The trench contained the living and the dead,
and weapons, which we put beyond the use
of men like cornered animals, whose dread
of us, to ours of them, was parallel.
As gun fire, covering, rained overhead,
confusion reigned and fear deep within,
we soldiered on and thought it not obtuse,
for something kept us at our work, despite
the chemical of doubt, adrenaline,
whose reasoning seemed undeniable, 
pumped through our heat raised veins, demanding flight.

As more troops on the battlefield arrived
for safety we had need to clear the site.
I walked out at the Sergeant Major’s side,
and far about the scene we tried to scan,
while sensing sudden danger all around
then “target left, militia in a ditch.”
The Sergeant Major quickly took him down,
a job of work, completion of a plan,
how many lives were saved for one deprived?
And we moved on, until ten yards away
another fighter stood, and so I dropped,
and kneeling, shot him, life denied.
“In all my dreams before my helpless sight”
in many hours of my waking day
I hear him coughing, taking his last gasp
and see him crumpling to the desert ground,
and wonder if your sort will ever grasp,
or even begin to acknowledge,
the weird kind of courage,
that it takes to kill a man.

And afterwards we took each corpse back where
the former man could be identified,
a dreadful, and a most horrific task,
and almost an impossibility,
but one from which we could not be exempt,
their death was our responsibility.
Their blood, soaked puce, into the desert sand
might have been mine, my life ended there.

“If in some smothering dreams” you too could see,
in detailed scenes within your poor mind’s eye
the vehicles we laid them in, with care, 
holding them intact, would you still ask
that bravery be held beneath contempt,

Sunday, 26 May 2019

A New Metric

Our company is doing really well
though results are lower than expected,
we’re not cynics, nor do we wish to sell
a product or service.  We elected
to measure our business with a true scale,
which is based on a system quite new,
besides which financial results seem to pale,
for in money there is little virtue.
Our system shows relative holiness 
and we’re holier, much more so, than thou,
it’s reliable, there is no wooliness,
the metrics are clear, here, I’ll show you how
we prove our levels of diversity
among our employees, where such things count.
We have ways we detect adversity,
we weigh it, assign an exact amount,
a number, to hardship exhibited.
And then we add it up, and thereby prove
our worth.  And nothing is prohibited
all forms of misery weigh, we remove
only those who are happy and able,
from work: their mirth causes irritation
to those at the top of the mood table.
Fit workers have no imagination
and show childish levels of humour
they don’t even try to invent disease,
not the least little slow growing tumour
which they know would give them a chance to please,
to show the boss how they’re really oppressed,
but they’re hampered by decency, of course,
and won’t pretend to be ill or repressed
for the sake of promotion and do not endorse
any cheating.  So we sack them, it’s best
and permits those who struggle to climb high,
and though we’re accused of exploitation,
this is something we always deny. 

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Michael Hessletine on the Trouble With Plebs

The ghastly plebs must never be allowed
to represent themselves.  Democracy
must not get in the way.  I’ve disavowed
it and implied that epistocracy
is all we need, for Britain to succeed.
The dreadful proles must never have their way,
although they have their uses, and indeed
I put in place a scheme, which in its day
did them some good, but am I ever thanked?
These wretches simply fail to understand
how much they owe me.  So, instead I’ve banked
huge subsidies, and now I must demand
that I be kept as I’m accustomed to,
tucked in the feather bed of the EU.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

On a Quote from Leibniz 

‘Music is a hidden arithmetic exercise of the soul, which does not know that it is counting.’

Arithmetic might please my soul,
although it seems, that on the whole,
my spirit, cannot calculate.
Instead it seems to concentrate
upon the sweet melodic role,
to keep the beat is not its goal,
I’ve never known it to extoll
Yet melody requires control,
harmonic rhythm fills the hole,
one hears the chords elucidate
so, is the way they resonate


Thursday, 16 May 2019

“These Are My Principles, If You Don't Like Them I Have Others”.

To manufacture meant to make by hand,
but manifesto has a different root.
Now manufacture means to mass produce
and manifesto, so we understand,
is quite redundant so we substitute
a fag packet or postage stamp, reduce
this thing once held in high esteem, rebrand,
pretend that nothing’s fixed, all points are moot.
For principles made public might induce
the earnest demos to demand
we stick to them, we’ll not go down that route.
We’d rather suffer torrents of abuse.
Ideas are mass produced, in think tanks now,
They're cheap as chips and worthless anyhow.


A metamorphosis in spring:
a sudden gust and then a lovely sight
a single petal from the Frühlingsgold
takes flight,
and twists and spins on its one wing
and I,
although I saw from whence it came, behold
above the border, in the azure sky,
a zany, half drunk Brimstone butterfly. 

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

The Last of The Oxford Marmalade

Congealed and dark, the marmalade
within the jar, has not been paid
attention to for weeks.   Marmite,
that other English 'marm', of night
black, salty, treacle darkness made,
has been in the ascendant; strayed
into morning's territory, preyed
upon my slimmer's mind, with spite
congealed and dark.
And now I feel I have betrayed
Frank Cooper's," Oxford" Vintage, played
fast and loose, neglected coarse, bright,
bitter, sweet, thick, Seville delight.
And now it's dry, the marmalade -
congealed and dark.

Equality is Good

Let no half measures mark our years of rule,
And yet, let balance always be our guide.
Let us govern evenly and make legality
The first and foremost thought in every mind.
Let no man think of freedom, let him school
Himself in doing what is right. We tried
To step away, but the fragility
Of any large, diverse community
Means someone has to be in charge: the state
Must take control and legislate.
We speak of matters like austerity,
Which sound as if we care about accountancy
And yet, I think that really what you'll find
Is that our only interest's the totality
Of jurisdiction; we don't discriminate.
We enter into everything, and on each kind
Of thought or action we adjudicate.
We subdivide the nation, each locality
Has sets of petty rules of its own,
Which can cause some confusion, it's a shame.
But overall I think you'll like our aim,
And our absolute infallibility.
Although we always need equivocate
When speaking, at least we're seeking
To demonstrate in reality
An equality of illiberality,
Which surely you condone?

Monday, 13 May 2019

Conditioning, Attempting Resurrection.

Spring flowers from the garden drink
the warm, sweet water, in the sink.
Their stems, cut in the noon day shine
through mad compulsion, which was mine,
are air locked, for I didn’t think,
spring flowers from the garden
respond in shock. I made no link
between the vessels of clear ink
and mine of blood. 

And yet a chink
of hope exists: they are divine -
spring flowers from the garden.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

The Babushkas of Chernobyl

Epitomising what we understand
as central to our human flourishing
embodied here upon this poisoned land.
They feed on what is deeply nourishing,
their love of liberty, of God, of home,
where home is not some recent rootless place,
but somewhere throughout which their minds can roam
through decades of sad memory and trace
their footsteps back to suffering and still
find love, because 'love conquers all' and when
it's beaten down it seems to grow, until
the worst the world can do is shown again
to be a catalyst for fighting back.
And nowhere can withstand true love’s attack. 

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Harry’s Son, A Harrison

Hear the wind chest,
hear the mighty swell,
Harry’s son, A Harrison,
knows how to yell.
He may weigh 7lbs in his small vest,
but he can put an organ to the test.
His mother, firmly glued to Instagram,
might leave him in the garden, in his pram,
but Harrisons were made for being heard.
And Harry’s son has many speaking stops
and when he cries he’s not some little bird,
he’s not a fan of Messiaen,
more like a screech owl on top c,
he starts his wailing loud and barely drops
his voice to catch his breath, but if he can
speak volumes without uttering a word
how like his namesake he must really be.

Friday, 3 May 2019

To Cast

The verb to cast means pointedly to throw,
in youth one casts as one casts nets, quite wide.
Light cast, blocked, will always cause a shadow,
antithesis, a different view or side.
And actions have their opposites, divide
the world by force, too commonplace to show,
though as we trip we curse our hurried stride.
The verb to cast means pointedly to throw,
to hurl our choice and seal our fate, yet know
we rarely set, cannot ourselves be cast, though cast aside,
we’re ever changing, molten, our thoughts flow.
In youth one casts as one casts nets, quite wide,
and catch ideas which dazzle and then slide
back into streams of nonsense where they grow
to be swallowed by other children, swimming against the tide.
Light cast, blocked, will always cause a shadow
and so 
we needs must flatten obstacles, deride
opponents, trample where they sow
antithesis, a different view or side,
because we can’t admit ideas elide.
So sad attempts at clarity make narrow,
and focus means we barely see and yet decide
the fate of others with our vote, our arrow:

the verb to cast means pointedly to throw.