Becalmed

Into vacuity pours every salivating nihilist
To vault bridges and dance the day invisible.

The disarmed pray
As hedonists look away
And the powerful wring their hands.

All prey, standing side-on;
Humanity, becalmed and haunted, waits
For spark and wind to wake the auditors.

#BritishValues

[June, 2014 – Tragic pertinence needs must rework and repeat]

 

What would you have us value, then?
What passes for these British traits?

Is it the wilful diminution of democracy
That separates the people from the State?

Or maybe our incessantly insistent view
That what we do is “help” the world for its own sake?

Oh, wait!
I think I’ve got it: it’s that fair play code we think we own!
How righteously polite we are!
Perhaps we should commission us a global honour mission
Thus we won’t feel so perceptibly alone.

So, is it in our famous law and order you’ve translated into Money talks?
Our globe-anointed tolerance that shadow-stalks the local masses?
Could it be the age-old choreography between the economic classes?
Is it in our Blighty-quaint ability to wait in lines? The neoliberal culture of
I’ll only pay for mine?

Stiff upper lip, is it?
The non-complaining strategy that manifestly rhymes
Neurotic and sclerotic with our passive-born aggression?
Or perhaps it’s that amazing, self-congratulating way
We tend to trip out on our history’s big lessons?

No, wait! Don’t tell me! Let me guess:
You mean like how you cherish our belovèd NHS?

Hang on..!

Or could it even be our undeniable capacity
To finger-point with swinging lead and buried heads?
Or might it be our deep, rich, grass-root, time-was Cool Britannia,
Now, by Cowell’s ilk and cynical palaver, made an operatic lather?
Is it in the way we gush and gift a paltry nobody to unreserved celebrity
And rush to make pariahs of the stars beyond our knowing?
Is it how we gloat and glower over uncontested power?
Yes! It surely has to be the Press, with all its freedom to impress?

Or is it how we toe the line
When Lord America decides
We might be useful hand-tools, after all?
Is it our poodle disposition or our sniffy exhibition
That defines our island character?

Do Britain’s expositions make her values truly worthy
Or just pompously perfidious and small?

Well?
What the hell and where the heck
Are all these dandy ‘British values’?
Suffer me my ignorance but,
Is it in the way you favour those already able?
Is it how you keep your brother
Or the fear that looks for other
In the refugee and immigrant?
The prisoner? Disabled?
Is it how you treat the NEETs?
The homeless, sleeping on the streets?
The single parent? Needy elders?
Every worker like a serf?

Is it how you are transfixed by everybody’s patriotic worth?

Perhaps you’d like our babies stamped at birth, like eggs,
With redly roaring lions? Then, once they’re schooled and duly cloned,
Be branded with a standard – maybe tractors backed by Union Flags
To make their British value known –
For, what is value worth that can’t be shown?

Don’t

Don’t mess; don’t second-guess the People: they have spoken
Don’t test their faith that says your liberal place has had its time
Do not forget your status now, is an arbitrary token
So be a good wee patriot and, quietly, get into line.

Don’t judge them by their words but by their actions
Don’t judge them by their deeds but their intent
Don’t judge them by their hungry, blind and constant angry factions
Do not mistake the rhetoric for what they really meant

Don’t caution, fret or organise to hinder their turn-back designs
Don’t let collective ignorance inhibit your respect
Do not get lost in challenging the means they justify as fine
Don’t be a party pooper; get that Kool-Aid down your neck.

 

Please, do not do this. Resist, resist. Resist.

State Shoots Liberty [#USElection2016]

Just as a golem wrecks at its own pace
And self-indulgent power learns to thrive;
There, at ground level Mercy yearns
To drive Humanity upon a wheel of Grace
And Tyranny’s obsessions to displace
Unto Eternity. From lack derives a paranoia
Willed; Fear kept alive by misery as great
As ever faced. Swap Honour for dogmatic
Spin as slick as oil. Give us your lies, your
Metaphors; your huddled, clichéd, empty
Rhetoric; the grasping garbage of your
scheming jaws. Bring on the vague but
Weighted, wordsome tricks and skim
The Truth beyond the darkened shore.

[Originally posted May 2013]

Inspired by ‘The New Colossus’ by American poet Emma Lazarus (1849–87), a sonnet written in 1883. “In 1903, the poem was engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the lower level of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty”

Patriot schism

The heat of patriotism,
in self-deceit,
spills outright lies
upon the world;
so sins by symbolism.

Flag unfurled
in rapture
to false fealty and,
ever yielding,
wrapped in glamour,
makes alignment
under brittle banners
staked along
impassioned lines,
all hot and ready,
set to march against
all sensible expressions
of dissent.

Now come the acts
in missives, sounding
symphonies and sending
hounds of hardware,
bringing down offending
hearts and minds
until the Fatherland is primed.

 

[First posted: June 2013]

‘faith-based prep’ is what I was hearing

I don’t like this Momentum Kids thing. I’m all for extending and incorporating childcare, especially for single parents and for reasons that are not work related. But that is not the bit of this news that has caught my mind.

’The initiative will also aim to increase children’s involvement in Momentum and the labour movement by promoting political activity that is fun, engaging and child-friendly”… Momentum ‘will use the left-wing movement’s network of 150 local groups to help youngsters who want to get involved in politics.’

It’s the partisan political activist education being rolled out bit that makes me go cold. It’s naive, at best. I think organised religion is politics with added conviction and, as I read the piece, ‘faith-based prep’ is what I was hearing.

As you know, dear Reader, I don’t like faith-based schools. I believe organised, religious indoctrination, if it must still exist, is for the designated temple and that in the compulsory years of education, religious study should be facilitated by informed debate and explored under the wider umbrella of Philosophy. So, too, should Politics. Children often need a counterbalance to their parents’ religious/political beliefs. They don’t need them confirmed and cemented by another self-appointed authority.

Children, especially young children, soak up everything. How would this go down if it was a Brexit-teaching crèche? A Scientology-teaching crèche? What about UKIP? Or the TaxPayers’ Alliance?

Is this ethical greyness healthy? I don’t think it is. Nor is it necessary. We have schools already. We have a national curriculum. There is where the pressure for improved learning about civic engagement should be applied. Regardless of the problems we can all cite over the state of our compulsory education system, therein is still the safest objective space for children’s well-rounded, non-partisan education.

Last week, Corbyn was rightly ridiculed for suggesting Labour Organising Academies and people raised justifiable concerns about dogma and ideology in the context of Theresa May’s reinforced support for faith-based schools. Both instances just reaffirmed, for me, why I don’t put much store in Corbyn’s or his team’s judgement and why I am so often offended by May’s.

When there is destabilised society, groups and individuals come to the surface and paint themselves or get painted as saviours and champions of the people. Sometimes, they are. But how many times, throughout history and across the world, has a group or individual become the unlikely romanticized hero, only to distort or corrupt a community by means of brainwashing or bribery?

It feels like the capacity for selective memory and cognitive dissonance is ever-increasing. Left to right, from cynical to starry-eyed, the country seems determined to overlook how easily the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And, of course, most of us want to believe that our intentions are good.