In Dire Parenthesis
by David Betteridge, with cartoon by Bob Starrett
When it comes to marching, many do not know
That their enemy is marching at their head...
- Bertolt Brecht
Whichever way your missiles fly,
reducing lives and hopes to debris, ash,
or dust; whichever way your anger
and your loathing lie, leaving space
for little else, and least of all for peace;
whichever flag you raise, or language speak,
whichever loyalty events have forced you,
cruelly, by their logic to embrace -
Who can speak of "Victory"
or celebrate some smaller gain
that might be deemed success,
when every half a league or verst
that nations may advance
is paid for dear, in blood,
and our world is less?
Who can speak of "Glory"
when the cause of building for
and building by the people
for our common good
has been so widely lost?
After the great sacrifice of the battlefield
and the siege, the blitzkrieg
and the enormities of hate and rape,
Our class war for justice
and the peace that it may bring
is set aside once more,
put in dire parenthesis,
as our leaders make us ready,
all too ready, for no end of slaughtering
in their next -
and their next one after -
David Betteridge is the author of a collection of poems celebrating Glasgow and its radical traditions, 'Granny Albyn's Complaint', published by Smokestack Books in 2008. He is also the editor of a compilation of poems, songs, prose memoirs, photographs and cartoons celebrating the 1971-2 UCS work-in on Clydeside. This book, called 'A Rose Loupt Oot', was published by Smokestack Books in 2011.