You'd Only Have To Do It Once
by Chris Amos
"You'd only have to do it once.
One burst of rapid fire - BRRRAAAPPP!
And stop the scum right then and there
And put Great Britain back on track.
They did it in Tiananamen Square - it worked for them.
'Course, they were Commie bastards mind,
But all the same it shut 'em up - fair's fair.
Dish out a similar kind of treatment here
And problem solved, mate!
You'd only have to do it once!"
So there he is - sat at the bar;
The voice of middle aged and Middle England
Spitting bile and half-chewed crisps out into empty air,
His words a red top tabloid blare that echo near and far.
His denims strain to hold his bloated beer gut in,
His Live Aid tee-shirt wearing thin,
His hairdo ageing Status Quo
And knowing all he needs to know
To judge on life and death.
And I'm sat thinking "Christ, shut up!"
But matey-boy's just warming up.
"How come his kids are dead and he's alive?
If they was my kids I would DIE before I let 'em come to harm!
I'd keep 'em safe at home
Among the bombs, among the drones, among the bodies and the rats
And just a hint of mustard gas upon the burning air,
I am a caring parent more than he would ever be!
If that was me, them kids would be alive back home in Migrant Land-Istan!"
And so he talks, and so I hear,
His words a horde, a stinging swarm about my ears.
I've known his kind these thirty years and never liked them.
What he calls common sense I call obscene,
A Katie Hopkins hard wet-dream.
"You're fired - BRRRAAAPPP!"
The bull bars on his four-by-four for ramming shut that open door.
It's always Nineteen Eighty-Four for him;
The generation given everything give something back?
Back's for wimps!
Unless it's "Back to where you come from, Gunga Din!"
And on the screen
The little child lies cold,
Carried shoreward in the gentle fold of waves that make no judgements.
He can't talk.
Yet he tells more truth in one still, silent image than you'd ever hear
From those slurred, snarling lips fuelled by wilful ignorance and beer.
Turn your gaze upon the revelation in those waves
And find the compassion your hatred stunts.
LOOK AT THE PICTURE.
YOU'D ONLY HAVE TO VIEW IT ONCE, I'D HOPE.
And "God?" I think; "We've talked before.
I'm not the best of men, but surely we can do a deal here?
Grant me, O Lord, by Thy great might a one-way helicopter flight
That I might shove him out the door into the Syrian Desert night
Abandoned, frightened, all alone and tell him;
"Make your own way home."
I'd only have to do it once and then I'd be a saint, I swear."
But God's not there.
Or if He is, He's keeping shtum.
The talk subsides.
And meanwhile with the waiting tides more children come.
But we're not looking anymore - the footy's on.
The child is gone.
by Jim Aitken
Mackay Brown once combed the beaches
of Orkney. Once he found a boot
of salty leather, throwing it
back into the white foaming waves.
And once, like Hamlet before him,
he brooded on a seaman’s skull
with sand rather than earth dripping
from the base. He threw that back too.
Usually it was just seaweed
strewn over the shore like mulched leaves
but he would always return here
to raise the profile of his place.
Once we called it Mare Nostrum
and it was where the real action
took place. It was there, we were told,
that civilisation started.
And now the Greek beachcombers
would welcome salty leather boots
that had danced the waves from Orkney
rather than real human jetsam.
More troubling still than traffickers
are the voices further in land
proclaiming their Christian values
by telling them to go away.
The universal brotherhood
of brine understands no borders
and would crash through all razor wire
smashing down all fences and walls.
For fragile is what we all are,
vulnerable our condition.
And what should flow, should surge from this
is nothing less than compassion.
We are all at sea, all at sea
in the same sea that soaks us all
and only by us reaching out
can we hope to keep our boots on.