Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Dial 0800 For God

Hello, you have reached God,
Via the Welby Hotline,
Be assured this service is truly divine,
Though it may not quite be what was meant
By two or three gathered together in My name.
To allow Him to deal with your request
Please select from the following options:
Press one if you are distressed
About your local church having been closed 
Since the third Sunday in Lent,
Yes, it’s a shame
But what can we do, these are the regulations.
Press two if you’re concerned about the adoption
Of woke attitudes by the clergy
When they are supposed
To be focusing on Christian teaching.
We know your frustrations,
But you’re old fashioned and you’ll soon be dead
And we need to please younger congregations,
Press three, if you have found the preaching
Of the Gospel according to St Greta 
Not much better
Than an out loud Guardian reading,
Good, then we must be succeeding
In creating the right impression.
Press four for someone strumming a guitar
Having a jamming session
While singing some formless tune without cadences.
Press five if you’d like Britain’s star 
To rejoin the circle of the twenty seven,
Press six for our new range of incense fragrances
That signal virtue, let your friends know how holy you are
And smell like Heaven. 

Saturday, 25 April 2020

On Modern Death

Should death not be a quiet, peaceful scene?
Why rage, vicariously, against the night?
Why take offence against what is serene?

Why rage through some invasive, vile machine?
What is your fierce, pugilistic right?
Should death not be a quiet, peaceful scene?

Why make your fellows struggle, why so keen
To force them to the bitter end to fight?
Why take offence against what is serene?

Why must you brutishly invade between
A man and his last hours, his call to light?
Should death not be a quiet peaceful scene?

You cannot know your actions don’t demean
Your fellow man’s esteem in his own sight.
Why take offence against what is serene?

Should one not meet one’s death in one’s routine,
‘Mongst things one’s soul can reach to depth, breadth, height?
Should death not be a quiet peaceful scene?
Why take offence against what is serene? 

Friday, 24 April 2020

When Most I Think

When most I think, then do mine eyes worst see,
For all the day they read things unelected
Experts write.  But when I daydream, free
Of care, I sense what’s right lies undetected
Out of sight, where shadow’s shade casts doubt
And certainty can never thrive. And so
Such questions upwards bubble and come out
As back to night’s state of black dark I go
And mole like blindness melts with owls’ skill
Which knows that wisdom does not think it knows,
Nor sees, but finely senses and with will
Hunts answers from such men as borrow
Power, knowing it must be repaid tomorrow.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

St George’s Day/Shakespeare’s Buthdi, in the Time of Plague

St George’s Day and England lies serene
And thinks of Shakespeare, playwright of plague years
And takes her comfort from the quiet green
And tries to calm her stress and squash ideas
Of ancient freedom, freeborn English men
Had never thought to see wholly erased.
She stills her shocked sense with the hope that when
The first flush fear of death has slowly phased
Into a time of better courage we
Shall not seek refuge in a prison state
That fools itself it can beat death, but free
Again to look and think and contemplate,
Acknowledges our finite nature calls
For traffic noise, and pubs and shopping malls!

Friday, 17 April 2020

New Lines on Westminster Bridge.

Precedent hath naught we can compare:
Wet would be he of soul who could pass by
A sight so sickening in hypocrisy:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Restaurants, pubs, churches, theatres, temples lie
Closed and bankrupt underneath the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
But yet, last evening at the hour of eight
I heard a noise that broke the calm so deep!
No social isolation now,  we needs must prate
On ‘our NHS’ and act as sheep
By clapping like dull morons, tis our fate
To find our nation ruined as we sleep. 

Wednesday, 15 April 2020


Stay work, protect economy, save NHS,
Don’t die, keep fit, clap less,
Buy stuff, eat out, drink more,
Drive country, walk dog, stroll shore,
Paddle sea, sunbathe, chat friends
Pray ban prepositions ends. 

Friday, 10 April 2020

Bogus Quantification

Stop your bogus quantification
Patronising, bullying pontification,
We’re free and we feel no obligation,
To listen to your nonsense about social isolation.

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Childhood’s Clock on the Mind’s Wall.

When I look at the light in the sky,
My mind can tell the time,
Looking in through the kitchen window,
At the clock on the kitchen wall
Of the place that was home, forty years ago.
And I look and I find that I know,
Like so many of my generation,
That it’s time to go in for tea:
A Rayburn baked potato
Then tinned peaches with Carnation.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Stay At Home

Stay at home, protect our NHS
Make sure you do not breathe to excess,
Stay at home, protect the air, 
Protect the lovely workers, who care:
Don’t use up sunlight, stay ill and pale,
You give off CO2 every time you exhale.

Stay at home leave your neighbours in the lurch,
But snitch if you see them making extra purch
ases, stay at home in peace and quiet,
We can’t let you out
As we’re scared that you might riot.
Stay in your poky flat, where the air is stale,
20 storeys up, to protect the silence:
For walking outside is doing violence.

Stay at home, protect the church,
Remember not to celebrate the resurrection,
Taking communion is insurrection.
It may look like political failure,
But don’t even contemplate
Raising an objection.

Stay at home, protect democracy,
Stay at home, protect the state,
Stay at home and clap and celebrate
This all encompassing,
Bullying bureaucracy
But take note,
They stole our liberty:
Since Parliament has failed,
Since it would not use its breath,
To defend our freedom with proper debate,
Then let this failed Parliament suffer death.
Stay at home, refuse to vote,
Stay at home when the bastards need a mandate. 

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

‘Noise’ in the Time of Coronavirus (Jaques Attali)

An early Broadwood grand stands 
In an empty bedroom of the same age, 
Silently, as it has of late,
Waiting for something to rupture
The extra depth of peace;
There is something disconcerting 
About stillness imposed by the state.
It is waiting for someone to rage
Over a lost penny, at least,
If not a lost economy or generation.
Its plum pudding mahogany is warm in the sun,
Which pours in from the south and east,
Highlighting the cobwebbed fenestration,
The thin glass between the thin glazing bars,
Which divide the view and the light,
Sky, garden, river, tall front gate,
Daffodils at the wood’s border
Into 12 equal parts,
Providing them with form,
Classical structure
Noise to music, order,
As they do the night,
The stars,
The rain, the storm.
Another empty day has begun.

Its identical twin, stands silently too,
In the Beethoven house in Bonn,
Same instrument, different lands,
One anonymous, one of great renown,
Untouched by human hands,
An object, displayed
To an empty room
Open, to keep the ivories white,
But shut down.
Now, not even gazed upon 
A mere object,  unplayed.  
If noise is power, ritual murder, violence,
What is this state imposed silence?
What is social isolation?
Are we so frightened of death,
So feeble, so oppressed
We accept this imprisonment, without question?
Aung San Suu Kyi had a piano 
Played Beethoven, during lockdown
But Beethoven only plays now, on Radio 3
Or from boxed set CD.
When so much music was learned, digested at an early date,
There seems little point in old age
Reading with dimming sight,
The music on the page
Attempting to amuse oneself
in solitary confinement
Under house arrest. 

The birds are not silent, 
In the garden and fields around
They’re marking their territory, during Lent,
Like rabble at a festival.
In endless repetition
But still at the sacrificial stage.
Their noise the articulation of a space,
“Keep your social distance”
But their singing 
Draws attention to the falseness, 
Of the lack of manmade sound.
And stacked up around the silent piano
Are hours of time, stockpiled,
The old man has devoted his life
To producing the means
To buy the recordings of other people’s time
Losing in the process not only the use of his own
But also the time required to use other people’s.
He has bought more records than he can listen to,
Than he could ever have heard.
Thousands of 78’s and LP’s and cassettes and cds
Among the dust 
And piles of printed music,
Some of it ordered, filed,
In ancient chests of drawers
Sagging under the weight.
The old man has stockpiled more time than he can hear,
As a way of buying time,
So that he does not disappear.

Yet death will come, regardless
Of the actions of the state,
Who will not let the old man
Hear the singing of his choir,
Or bring organ music to the funerals
Of those his neighbours, once held dear.
And empty, lonely silence, 
Seems to bring death near.