Poetry

Poetry

It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care to act,
it starts when you do it again after they said no,
it starts when you say we and know who you mean,
and each day you mean one more.

Marge Piercy

The Greatest Gift of Boris J: A New Dunciad
Tuesday, 06 June 2017 15:13

The Greatest Gift of Boris J: A New Dunciad

Written by
in Poetry

The Greatest Gift of Boris J:
a New Dunciad

by Christopher Norris

The greatest gift of Boris J
Was having lots of things to say
That sounded smart but very soon
Revealed him as a prize buffoon.
His father quickly saw the boy
Was most unlikely to enjoy
Preferment of the kind that came
Of native wit, since just the same
Perception had compelled his Dad
To say of him: 'a splendid lad
But thick as two short planks'. Still he'd
Got on alright, maintained the breed,
Produced son Boris, raised the kid
To do the sorts of things he did,
Like spouting nonsense long and loud
To wow the plebs or please the crowd,
And made of him, in short, a fine
Addition to the family line.

          But every idyll has an end,
And so the time arrived to send
This none-too-promising young chap
Somewhere to plug the three-year gap
Between school and whatever kind
Of job Dad's city friends could find
To put his way. In short, he'd not
The brains to mix it with a lot
Of clever kids from grammar-school
Or comprehensive whom he'd fool
With one of his set-piece displays
Of blustering, but who might raise
Some question as to whether he,
That loud-mouthed bully-boy, should be
Received amongst them in a place
Of higher learning. Such disgrace,
His father feared, could so affect
Poor Boris that it wholly wrecked
His chance of spending those three years
On sundry ways to keep his peers
From finding out the little trick
He'd learned for not appearing thick.

CN1
          So off he went to Oxford where,
Great tricksters all, they didn’t care
Too much about the curious lack
Of evidence with which to back
The perfect self-assurance that
Came of his having got off pat
The sorts of stuff that went down well
With tutors not allowed to sell
A place at college but inclined
To favor those with whom they wined
And dined. The trick: pretend that you're
A clever chap who knows the score
Alright, but just pretends he's dumb
For laughs, though really (as they'd come
To know if things went wrong) you played
The game of a buffoon who made-
Believe he’d brains enough to take
A jester's role. If he could fake
It well enough then soon he'd get
The hoi polloi onside and let
Them count him just a harmless clown
While commentators had him down,
Obligingly, as more clued-
Up inverse Coriolanus who'd
The vulgar turn of speech to bring
The mob on board but the true ring,
To ears attuned, of one whom it
Best suited now to play the pit
Against the gallery. He’d show
(For those onlookers in the know)
How the best minds could always hide
Their true intent or send us wide
Of it if we’re the sorts of folk
Not smart enough to get the joke.

          Yet knowing types were taken in,
Just like the mob, because their spin
Was one that opted to rehearse
The Boris line, not its reverse.

CN2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Else they’d have quickly found him out
A genuine fool (of this no doubt)
Though one who opted to regale
The world with an unending tale
Of follies that could only strike
His classy chums as too much like
Their own for them to think of him,
The Johnson chap, as simply dim.
That’s why their preferential view
Revealed a brilliant thinker who
Exploited every chance to sus
His various publics out, and thus
Did more than anyone to keep
The dogs of class-war safe asleep.

          His father realized early on
That fortune had not blessed his son
With brains enough to make the grade
Against those upstart sons of trade
Who nowadays aspired so far
Above their station as to bar
The Boris-types from grabbing all
The academic prizes. 'Call
Me prejudiced', Dad said, 'but I'm
Resolved my idiot son will climb
As high as I did up the tree
Of unearned wealth and stand, like me,
Foursquare on privilege and rank.
Not like those redbrick kids who bank
On brains to get them good degrees
Instead of knowing how to please
Some well-placed person who can tip
His friend the wink or quietly slip
A word into the Master's ear.
He’ll see exams don't interfere
With the arrangements put in place
To make quite sure we don’t debase
The currency by letting brain,
Not wealth, direct the gravy-train.’                                             

CN8

          Then Father, warming to his theme,
Worked up a further head of steam
As he recalled again how his
Own alma mater did the biz
For Boris, let him in with no
Hard questions asked, refused to toe
The line on widening access, and
Allowed him full scope to expand
His range, not of ideas or thoughts
But handy friends. They were the sorts
(His Dad reflected with a sense
Of grateful pride) who’d recompense
Their pal with favors far beyond
Whatever hike might correspond
To coming out with a starred First,
The prize for nerdy blokes who nursed,
So Dad assumed, some petty grudge
Against the rich. This made them drudge
Long hours in libraries instead
Of making friends, getting ahead,
And plugging any deficit
Of intellect or mother-wit
With smooth talk of the kind that went
A whole lot further to augment
The family fortunes. Yes, they still
Found a few scholarships to fill
With all those intellectual types
Or state-school kids. Whence all the gripes
About the sorts of rowdy stuff
That happened when the fights got rough,
Or when the Bullingdons decreed
Some hapless scholar had no need
Of trousers, books, or things defined
As smacking too much of the mind
In quiet revolt against the brute
Assertion of a creed to suit

CN4

That drunken mob. But it's a case,
Here as in all things, of 'the race
Goes to the fittest', which translates
In Boris-speak as: choose your mates
With care and then they'll help you fix
Things up – friends, enemies, odd tricks
To balance books, a bob or two
In leaner times, and chaps to do
The necessary when it comes
To stuff best handled by your chums
Like claiming debts, or settling scores
With bigger blokes, or routine chores
Like squaring chappies who don't quite
Latch on. Those chappies may be bright
Yet miss the finer points involved
In how such matters get resolved
Amongst the smart set who've received
Their drill in what to do when peeved
By such slight upsets. 

                              That’s the best
Thing about Oxford and the test
Of how much it can do to boost
Your real life-chances, get you used
To spieling confidently when
You’re talking utter tripe, and then –
Should some smart-arse presume to take
You up on it – get chums to break
A bone or two. They’ll help repair
The social breach lest more of their
Prerogatives be stolen by
Those pushy redbrick alumni.

CN5

Thus Dad again: 'Think, if you will,
How vain the effort to instil
Wisdom or knowledge in a mind
As primitive and unrefined
As that which he inherited,
My son, from ancestors long dead
And brought to that pluperfect stage
Where his meanderings let us gauge
How far it’s gone, our family tree,
In its decline to idiocy.
Those Oxford tutors know the ropes;
They get their share of wealthy dopes
And so adjust their teaching plan
To suit the individual man
(I'm told some colleges accept

download

Girl students now, but that's best kept
Well under wraps).

                 Where was I? Yes,
His Oxford tutors took a guess
That Boris likely wouldn't shine
In scholarship but might do fine
In other ways if they could build
Constructively on unfulfilled
Potential and so stretch his few
Poor talents till one hardly knew
How few and poor they were. The task
Was somewhat eased, in case you ask,
By his strong tendency to big
Them up and then, should someone twig
How perfectly absurd the boast,
Repeat it louder till the most
Determined sceptic had to stop
His ears and let the matter drop.

          That gift they cultivated, plus
His way of making a great fuss
About his always being right
On every topic. This despite
His almost always being wrong,
Which didn't much affect the song
And dance he made or help him learn
From his mistakes, unless to turn
The volume up and shout them down,
Which hugely bolstered his renown
Among the likewise challenged bunch
Of hangers-on. They had a hunch
That this might be their own best way
Of keeping mockery at bay,
This Boris-wheeze of talking crap
But getting everyone to lap
It up because he put in lots
Of pompous words and filled the slots
That English nonsense failed to reach
With foreign nonsense. This they’d teach
Him every day, his tutors, so
That soon he’d be prepared to go
Out in the world and not let on
How dense he was.

              The handiest con-
Trick was the schoolboy one that took
No more than a quick, furtive look
For Latin tags or quotes. These fall
Conveniently to hand on all
Occasions when one’s tried and failed
To think of something that availed
Last time to hide one’s total lack
Of gumption. Plus it takes a smack
At those who’ve missed out on the rich
And many-sided culture which
Lies open solely to the sons
Of privilege. For they’re the ones –
Contest it as you will – whose sense
Of taste and native competence
Allows them that especial ease
Of access that the legatees
Of vulgar ignorance should just
Accept since their condition must
Exclude them from the magic zone
Where class and classics greet their own.

CN6

            So thought his Dad, though that old block
The chip was off maintained his stock
Response whenever someone had
The cheek to call his son a cad.
Else they might raise the question why
He sounded such a clever guy,
With all those long words and his air
Of having such a natural flair
For languages, yet somehow got
Mixed up when faced with on-the-spot
Collocutors who went off-script
Or TV panellists who quipped
About him in satiric mode,
Thus disrespecting every code
Of media etiquette. This left
The poor lad totally bereft
Of words beyond the tongue-tied yawp
Or snorts of rage at which they'd gawp,
Those interviewers prone to think
Him super-smart since told to link
Up with his media-savvy team
Of PR heavies whose regime
Imposed strict limits on the scope
For doubt. For it's a slippery slope
From slight misgivings they might feel
To counting him an imbecile
And so thenceforth according scant
Attention to his mindless rant.

             All this his father deemed a mere
Reflection of the need to sneer
At intellects above their own
Among the rabble, or those known
As rabble-rousers in the crew
Of ex-chums. Must be that lot who
Spread all the nasty stuff around
Announcing that he'd now been found
A fool, an ignoramus, and
The kind of bloke they couldn't stand
To think they’d just last week embraced
As sharing their superior taste.

CN7
Truth is, Dad wasn't quite immune
To doubts on that score, but would soon
Suppress them when some cheeky cub
Reporter took his chance to rub
It in that his fine son was (let's
Say) just the sort of chap who gets
Thrown out of parties, or the sort
Who seems a few IQ points short
Of normal, or who, every time
He speaks, commits some hideous crime
Against the English Language. Still,
Though Dad had learned the put-down drill
To send them packing, he could not
Conceive what might have been his lot
In life, young Boris, had the fates
Withheld that gift which compensates
For defects of the mind or soul
With other benefits. These stole
A march on all the clever blokes,
Or nice-guy types, or other folks
More able but less well supplied
With skin like a rhinoceros-hide
And lacking his protective gift
Of being not the least bit miffed
At satire's barbs since wadded thick
So even the sharpest didn't stick.

            'Full many a flower is born to blush',
And all that, but before they rush
To judgment – so his father thought –
Perhaps those social levellers ought
To count the cost in man-hours spent
By Oxford tutors eminent
Enough to land themselves a post
At seats of learning coast to coast,
Yet now with naught to exercise
Their minds save trying to devise
New ways to keep a nincompoop
In check. Else he’d provide some scoop
For paparazzi keen to bite
The hand that any moment might
Give one of them a story sure
To hit the headlines and procure
Such short-lived fame as comes to those
Who hardly need to hold their nose
When tailing Boris. For the smell
Brings promise of more tales to tell
And lets them know, should any doubt
Remain, that they have all the clout
In market terms since no one reads
The nice stuff. Plus, raw sewage needs
At least as much disposal-care
As those choice items fit to share
With readers whose more sensitive
Olfaction means they’re apt to give
Both Boris and the hacks who thrive
On him scant licence to connive
At further lowering the tone
By any standard but their own.

CN9

          And so once more: ‘Where was I? Must
Have gone a bit off-topic just
When I got to that handy quote
From Gray, you know, the one who wrote
The Country Churchyard thing – but damn
Me, what a foolish chap I am
To keep on getting sidetracked. Three
Times now I’ve tried to say that he,
My Boris, isn’t half as bad,
As stupid, or as raving mad
As some make out, and every time
For some odd reason – one that I’m
Not up to sorting out – I veer
Off course and make the boy appear
A dunce, a cad, a perfect fool,
A dolt, a semi-witting tool
Of racists, and a chap you’d go
Long ways around to miss or throw
Clean off your trail. For should you meet
He’ll probably be quick to greet
You like a bosom-pal, until
You mention some outstanding bill,
At which he rings his city mates,
Informs them loudly how he hates
Your guts, then – like as not – just hints
He’d like to see your legs in splints.

          But that’s enough – can’t keep on track
As planned but will keep circling back
To all those things that I’d prefer
To brush aside yet still occur
Unbidden to me as I strain
And fail, and strain, and fail again,
Fail worse this time, to stick up for
That boy of mine and so restore
The family name. Truth is, it’s too
Much, even for a father who
Devoutly wishes to defend
His only son, this need to bend
The factual evidence so far
As to make Boris out the star
Yet helpless victim of a vile
Conspiracy with all the bile
That comes the way of anyone
As rich and famous as my son.

          But no, the truth will out: they're right,
And I'll acknowledge it despite
This vain attempt of mine to press
A case for the defence. Why stress
The soft stuff like paternal love
And private loyalty above
The rival claims of civic good
Or common decency that should,
So we're instructed, come to guide
Our acts and choices once untied
From those rogue impulses that rule
Our hearts and minds until we school
Them in more adult ways? Not my
Strong suit, this stuff, although I try
To take the Creon view and see
The problem with Antigone,
If you'll excuse the sharp descent
From their sublime predicament
To how I stall and beat about
The bush. Why can’t I come right out
With what I should have said straight off:
That Boris is the kind of toff
Who gets us fellows a bad name?

          Let’s face it, he’s the one to blame
If things go wrong with our old trick
For pleb-appeal. That lets us click,
Us Grade A types, with all those folk,
The Ds and Es, who like a bloke
Much classier than the Bs and Cs
Since quite at liberty to please
Himself in all he says or does,
Like setting lots of ears abuzz
With gibes about the middling sort
Of social climber. Why comport
With rules of decency or tact
Devised by parties to a pact
The main effect of which has been
To keep the have-nots off the scene,
As well as haves with wealth enough
(Inherited) to tell them: stuff
Your bourgeois virtues, stand aside,
And see us jump the class-divide
From A to E. But now he’s blown
The gaff, my wretched boy, and shown
That up as just the kind of ruse
That chaps like us will always use
To dupe the very folk who’d stand
To gain the most if our old brand
Of fake class-hopping were exposed
For what it is. So, chapter closed:
Just have to have to find another way
To con them, fight another day,
And forge anew the ancient bond
Of foule esclave and beau monde.

Source: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
Saturday, 03 June 2017 18:45

An Irish Politician Speaks

Written by
in Poetry

An Irish Politician Speaks

by Kathryn Keane

Of course what you're doing
is phenomenal, I've no doubt about
that, and I'll stay safely behind you
every step of the way.
And of course it's a fine cause,
something we should all be
supporting, and all it needs
is someone just like you
to lead the way and someone just like me for it to die on.

Because when it comes
To any decisive change
Or any decisive action
Or any decision to be made at all
You can count on me
To speak out on every worthwhile cause
And say absolutely nothing.

Mud
Saturday, 03 June 2017 08:29

Mud

Written by
in Poetry

Mud      

by Susan Millar DuMars

 You did right to stay put.

We admire you.  You,

with your gun and your country.

Your children squat in the mud

they were made from.

We want to help you.

Those who ran, are still running,

they’re not noble.  Not solid.

They flit and flutter

from border to border

not knowing when they’re not wanted.

Imagination’s expensive.

They can’t afford it.

We’re sorry to mention,

but the mud their kids

are squatting in?

That’s our mud.

But you – we admire you

with your slingshot and your country.

Hold on please, we’re coming.

A promise is a promise.

Your war is important to us.

Please, hold the line.

Death Chant of Capitalism’s Handmaidens
K2_PUBLISHED_ON Wednesday, 31 May 2017 18:33

Death Chant of Capitalism’s Handmaidens

in Poetry
Written by

Death Chant of Capitalism’s Handmaidens: For Choir of 350 Identical Voices

 by Kevin Higgins

We the underwritten do with great solemnity promise

on our watch Union Carbide, Johnson & Johnson,

Lockheed Martin, and the late Herrs Bosch and Braun 

will all have penis and balls cleanly dismantled,

made safe, and exported to fortify the wall

keeping terrorists from Judea and Samaria out;

each have a working vagina installed

under a Chanterelle beige

plutonium-powered pants suit fit

to play rhapsodies in

for the safe delivery of the shells

Golda guided onto the outskirts

of Damascus, for Indira’s ‘Smiling Buddha’

one thousand four hundred kilogram bomb,

for Imelda’s closet of shoes too fabulous

for the likes of you, on a grand piano

your grandmother swiped

from departed refugees,

seconds after one’s typed

in the codes to end man,

plant, and womankind;

bequeathed the planet to the gender neutral,

and hence far more successful, bacilli

Deinococcus Radiodurans who unlike us

will waste not one moment working out

on their calculators

which Facebook comments

it would be a smart career move

to like.

 

Note by Kevin Higgins

Recently, Frankie Gaffney wrote the following article in the Irish Times: Identity politics is utterly ineffective at anything other..... 

Frankie's argument that class, not gender, sexuality or race, is the key division in society was supported online by a number of activists and writers of both genders, and was shared sympathetically by many, including Kitty Holland, the Irish Times journalist who broke the story of the in 2012 death of Savita Halappanavar (after she was refused an abortion at University Hospital Galway), a tragedy which led to Ireland's abortion laws being amended. 

An open letter titled 'Cop On Comrades' condemning those who shared the article and supported Frankie's article was then published and signed by 350 women 'activists' https://feministire.com/2017/05/25/cop-on-comrades/ It focuses on the men who shared the article, for obvious opportunist reasons, ignoring the fact that many women also supported the general point of view. Elsewhere online Kitty Holland, perhaps Ireland's leading journalist on the issue of women's rights, was condemned by some for being anti-feminist. 

It must be pointed out that though many of the signatories to the 'Cop On Comrades' are indeed respected activists, a good number have never been active in doing anything other than promoting their own literary ambitions; a few were open supporters of Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders in last year's US Presidential election; and several remained entirely silent during the massive movement against water charges/privatisation (2014-16) which mobilised hundreds of thousands of working and middle class people and forced the Irish government into a historic climb down.

At Shannon
K2_PUBLISHED_ON Saturday, 27 May 2017 15:44

At Shannon

in Poetry
Written by

At Shannon

by James Martyn Joyce

The black man wielding the bottle of Tia Maria and the chocolates,
Padding to the checkout, is the full-stop that makes him look,
Makes him see the others:
Uniformed ants feeding through the shelves,
Aran sweaters and golfing hats clasped to their sand-brown chests,
Multiples of vodka clinking in their fists.

They bring the desert here, these young troops,
Camouflaged to blend into sand,
Melt behind baked brick walls,
Soundless on desert soles, eyes scanning as they move,
Through the aisles of alcohol, the rows of packaged gifts.
Shaven headed, they choose the normal,
The day-to-day, like returning from a holiday,

As if their tour was not of duty,
But two weeks lingering near girls they never got to know,
Or did, and were gravely disappointed.
Or lucky, maybe, like the mine exploding down the street,
Comrades like so much meat, dead,
Like the eyes of the Texan boy on the edge of his seat,
Bidding ‘good-day Sir’ to the man who accosted him
In some vain attempt to understand, and got called ‘sir’,
As if such mannered traits could lead to a better understanding,
But does not.

Or the thin girl by the souvenir rack,
Clutching a leprechaun for luck,
Her smile, wistful, praying a stuffed doll
Could bring back everything she’s lost,
All she saw justified by some salute,
Ignoring her own mother in the eyes of an Arab woman,
Crying out, calling death into the room,
The wounds cratering her son’s remains just cause.

Or the ones called Brad or Goose,
Hard men at the bar, talking whiskey, kills,
Cadavers lined up and swallowed down,
Bodies stacked with the Paddy and the Bells,
Their ghost-victims carpeting the room:
Sub-human in their facelessness,
Down there with the hogs,
Players, they shield the timbered bar and I sit
Lined-up at their feet, try to read departure times,
Avoid their burning stares.

 

For the Many not the Few
K2_PUBLISHED_ON Wednesday, 17 May 2017 17:44

For the Many not the Few

in Poetry
Written by

If All the People Voted for the Many Not the Few

by Zita Holbourne 
 
If all the people who didn't vote used their vote
They'd force politicians to sit up and take note 
The number of young people who didn't vote at all
Outnumbered those voting last election in total

If all the people who said "I don't do politics"
Joined the "all politicians are the same" cynics 
They could hold our political future in their hands
And influence on June 8th what happens in these lands 

If all those who said they like Jeremy Corbyn
But they don't think  he can win so they won't be voting 
Used their vote and voted for  Labour he would win 
If all who won't vote Labour 'cos they don't like him

Voted on policies not his personality 
We could make stopping cuts a reality 
We could save the NHS, reduce inequality 
Lift those struggling to survive out of poverty

End zero hour contracts and earn a living wage
Stop disadvantage based on gender, race and age 
Disability and sexual orientation 
Make a stand against exploitation

Or neglect of the most vulnerable people 
Build a society that's more just and equal 
Invest in social and affordable homes
Get paid a living wage, not turn to payday loans
 
Renationalise energy and Royal Mail 
End the privatisation of buses and rail 
Reverse welfare reforms like the bedroom tax 
And to University tuition fees give the axe

Make education free not a privilege for the rich 
Kick draconian Tory policies in the ditch 
Halt cuts to jobs, services and communities 
That are destroying lives, made with impunity

Stop austerity measures that are ideological 
Reject the myths and lies that they're economical 
If all the people who even though they know full well
These Tory cuts assign them to a living hell

But still in vox pops and polls, when asked will say 
"I'm voting Tory cos I like Theresa May" 
Would see that's just like turkeys voting for Christmas
It makes no sense at all, it's just ridiculous

If all those who say they're voting for May "because she's strong"
Would stop to realise you can be  strong and wrong 
That gentle and peaceful doesn't equal weak 
That being real and caring doesn't make you a freak

If all the people voting on how you look not what you do 
Looked at voting records rather than each leader's shoes 
They'd see that Corbyn's stood up for us from time 
That for decades of time he's had your back and mine

In communities not just in  Parliament
He's meant what he said, said what he meant
Joining rallies and vigils for justice and peace 
Stood on picket lines and protested on the streets 

If elected Labour will invest  in schools and  education 
- An old African proverb gives Corbyn inspiration
"It takes a village to raise a child" he says -
EMA and free school meals because it pays

To invest in the lives and  futures of   our children 
This is what it's all about, the next generation
If all the people who say they won't vote, voted Labour 
Encouraged their friend, colleague and neighbour

We could change the future life chances of  young people  
Build a society that's safe and is stable 
Protect our rights and defend communities 
Focus on building trust and hope and unity

If all the people who say "I don't really know"
Take the time to read the Labour manifesto 
The undecided could be the people who decide 
And together with those who "don't vote" turn the tide 

If all those who don't, decided now that they will 
We could move forward rather than standing still
Just imagine how empowered we could be 
If we stopped thinking I and thought of we
 
If the “don't vote” became the people who do
If we voted for the many not the few
If we acted as a majority
We could  finally see an end to austerity
We could rise up out of poverty
We could achieve true equality
 
If all the people voted for the many not the few.....
 
Theresa May spanks Donald Trump
Monday, 15 May 2017 18:58

The Great Repeal

Written by
in Poetry

The Great Repeal

by Kevin Higgins

“As it happens, personally I have always
been in favour of fox hunting” - Theresa May

Furthermore,
when we abolish the political correctness gone mad
that is the Human Rights Act,
it will again be legal to strip and smear
Conservative parliamentary candidates
with animal fat and pursue them with hounds
through the Devon countryside on
bank holiday Mondays; legal

to remove from your property
with a horsewhip or, failing that, a crossbow
any Daily Mail journalists
you catch going through your bins;

legal to tie down and spread tuna fish oil all over
the Chairman (or Woman) of a FTSE 100 company
and leave the rest
to your expert team of feral cats;

legal to chase
with demented Alsatians
through Welwyn Garden City of a Wednesday
former rock journalists with nothing left
but their opinion of themselves;

legal in certain parts of East Sussex
to set starving greyhounds
on anyone you think resembles
a retired tennis player
or Mike Read of the BBC;

legal again to hunt, using properly licensed rifles,
decayed intellectuals
with nothing now going on under
their formerly magnificent hair
on the anniversary of Professor Norman Stone’s funeral;

legal once more to celebrate
St. George’s Day by following
Pippa Middleton around Herefordshire with bulldogs
and a temperamental shotgun;

when the British people rise,
put the B back into Britain
and she once again rules
the itsy-bitsy waves
around the Isle of Wight, mate.
The waves around the Isle of Wight.

Corbyn's Banner
Sunday, 14 May 2017 06:50

Corbyn's Banner

Written by
in Poetry

Corbyn's Banner

by Alan Morrison

In corduroy cap and crumpled shirt, he came,
Not from outside Parliament as some expected
The new political prophet to usher from, as once old

AM poem1

Autodidact ex-coal miner Keir Hardie came shocking
Tories in his sailor's knotted scarf, tweed cap
And corduroy trousers – no, Corbyn came from
Within Parliament, although from the furthest flung
Rear green benches long neglected by New Labour
And the Blairites for the neoliberal lullaby,
Where a handful of true Labourites bit their tongues
For decades chomping at the bit as "New", "Blue"
And "One Nation" Labour-substitutes bowdlerised
Hard-fought-for ideals, sold them out to tabloids,
Private sector opportunists and City speculators,
All for a thumbs up from the Murdoch press
And the empty triumph of power at the expense
Of principles; but now it is True Labour bannered
By Corbyn through whom we can now see the only
True power: the power of hope, the power of compassion,
The power of openmindedness, the power of empathy
With historic late bloom of the blood-red Rose
Under the nurturing green fingers of this Socialist
Of Islington North, no gentrification but a genuine
Grassroots regrowing of a true-grit, reinvigorated,
Remobilised Labour Movement –for the first time in
Over thirty years the Party has returned to its roots,
Its' true foundations, foundations that are movable,
Were ever moving towards progressive evergetism,
Leftwards to the fundamentally Good Society
That Socialism had taken on the baton from practical
Christianity to bring about and build upon, the New

AM poem6

Jerusalem – and now is the hour, it comes with Corbyn,
A once-in-a-blue-moon blooming of Labour's Red Rose,
Who with a philanthropic soul and sympathetic heart
Could fail to have been profoundly moved and stirred
By the singing of 'Jerusalem' merged into 'The Red Flag'
As Corbyn's first Conference raised the scarlet standard?

Tories, Blue and Red, the red-top tabloids, even liberal
Papers label Corbyn "unelectable" because they're all
Terrified that he might be elected, pip opinion polls,
Disrupt the Establishment with a triumph for the People –
And, in spite of all, he could: We can make it possible!

But no celebration is permitted for triumphs
Of the Left, for now the fight is on to win hearts
And minds in spite of the neoliberal establishments'
Many arsenals, monopolies and weapons primed
To appear as prompt as Corbyn's victory speech,
To smear, defame and slur his name in the gutter press,
The Daily Nail and Daily Repress, for they will attempt
A coup de papier of elephantine headlines denouncing
"Crimson Corbyn", "Red Jeremy", this "threat to
Our national security", this 'Nationaliser Lenin',
This "scrounger"-loving, "anti-business" 'old Trot',
This 'one man tribute band to Nye Bevan', a Red
Republican who 'refuses to sing the national anthem',
Who doesn't "bow deeply enough" before the Cenotaph,
Who doesn't "kneel on a stool" before the Queen
In order to become a privy councellor, consorts

AM poem 7


With the Stop the War Coalition who published
A poem impeached for accusing the monarchy
Of Babylonian decadence (by Heathcote Williams),
A 'rabble-rousing no-good do-gooder' ingratiating
Himself with refugees and immigrants and all
The hoi polloi and lumpenproletariat –how dare he!–
(He even writes poetry! as Clement Attlee used to)
Anticipating his future feeding of five thousand
Foodbank users, they'll want to crucify him through
Public opprobrium brought on by hyperbolising
His democratic socialism as "Bolshevism", his
Commitment to peace in Palestine and Ireland
As 'Hamas-palming' and 'IRA-rallying', they even
Accuse this son of defenders of Cable Street against
The Blackshirts, who stood side by side behind barricades
In solidarity with the Jewish shopkeepers, of "anti-
Semitism" by association; yes, they will try to crucify him
With his own words by twisting them into rhetorical
Crowns of thorns, and then they'll try to nail him
To crosses of their scoops, and sundry Blairite grandees
Will be waiting eagerly in the wings to give him
The Judas Kiss before he's pilloried and figuratively
Flogged before the Murdoch press carrying his own cross;

AM poem8


And Pharisee Blair, self-professing "Christian" issues
Staunchest insinuations and warnings against this
Beige-jacketed, plain-speaking, compassionate man
Who's performing a moral blood-transfusion on Labour
And saying many of the things that Blair's own Saviour
Would say if He were here today (yet so many so-called
'Christians', it seems, would be the first to pick apart
The policies of a Second Coming, as they so rapidly
Do those of His apparatchiks) –what kind of heart
Has Blair to snub Corbyn's mobilising numbers as
Having faulty hearts that need transplants –those
Passionate supporters patronised as 'Corbynistas'?
Is Blair's a Christian heart that cautions against the politics
Of Christianity? Blair, who gave Labour a faulty heart-
Transplant, cutting out Clause Four, prime chamber
Of its heart, left little intact of the Left in the Labour
Movement, then fibbed his way to carpet-bombing
Afghanistan and Iraq –the dossier-draped Crusader...
Christ would have one word for him: "Hypocrite!" Corbyn
Is seeking a 'change of heart', that Audenic thing,
A 'change of heart' in the body politic away from
Blaming the vulnerable, the poor, the unemployed
And disabled for our economic woes, and towards
A belated reckoning with the true culprits
Of the financial crisis, the City speculators, hedge-
Betters and bankers who, of course, bountifully bankroll
Our Conservative overlords in Government –he'd
Throw out their tables from the temple of Parliament...

AM poem9

Tories, Blue and Red, the red-top tabloids, even liberal
Papers label Corbyn "unelectable" because they're all
Terrified that he might be elected, pip opinion polls,
Disrupt the Establishment with a triumph for the People –
And, in spite of all, he could: We can make it possible!

O they'll try to launch 'a very British coup' against Corbyn,
Rogue generals hint already at "mutiny" should
He ever get to form a government, they'd oppose him
With armed force just as they'd plotted decades ago
To oust old mog Harold Wilson whom they'd suspected
Of being a Soviet double agent (more like Blofeld's
Purring pussy cat!), a mole for Moscow, thus prompting
His untimely resignation as prime minister –so much
For the English sense of democracy; we've seen this
All before, how many times, one loses count, but it's
Likely our neoliberal establishment will dish its worst
And dirtiest against this kindly "dinosaur" of all our cause,
Worse smears than "Red Ed", Neil 'ginger Welshman'
Kinnock or Michael 'scruffy duffle-coated professor'
Foot ever endured –the Party apparently 'RED AND
BURIED!' on the morning after the triumph of the night
Before –No, the Party is more alive than ever before,
Its numbers doubled under Corbyn's climb, gathering

AM poem 11

Momentum! So, comrades, we must be ready for
The fight of the Red Flag against the right-wing might
Of the red-tops, Blue Torch and jingoistic Jack –no more
John Bull but John Ball; O how many times have we
Witnessed this before, prophets hath no honour in
Their lands or among their kin, or party, but we must
Make sure this time the righteous will win over cynicism,
Cupidity, selfishness, greed and social cruelty
Of our Thatcheritic anti-culture – let this embryonic
Moral triumph mushroom, be no pyrrhic victory –
Let's not stand by as they try to crucify another 'J.C.'......

For Joe Skipsey: The Pitman Poet of Percy Main
Friday, 05 May 2017 10:27

For Joe Skipsey: The Pitman Poet of Percy Main

Written by
in Poetry

For Joe Skipsey: The Pitman Poet of Percy Main (1832-1903)

by Keith Armstrong

'He'll tell his tale o'er a pint of ale,
And crack his joke, and bad
Must be the heart who loveth not
To hear the Collier Lad.' - Joe Skipsey

To be a pitman poet
you drag words
out of the seam of a dictionary,
write against the grain
all the time
feeling the pain
of a small education,
scribbling in the dark
for a bright spark
germ of a poem.
Hewing
for rhymes,
ducking
in case the roof
of the verse
caved in on you,
Joe
it was bloody hard
to learn,
to craft a line
from the black pit
when the whole world
weighed down on you.
A man was forced
to sing,
to render a ballad
like a lamp in the tunnel,
scraping an education
from coal,
crawling along bookshelves
to find daylight,
Shakespeare,
Shelley
and melody
in the stacks
of an underground library.

Ballade upon 'Warts and All'
Wednesday, 03 May 2017 21:17

Ballade upon 'Warts and All'

Written by
in Poetry

Ballade upon ‘Warts and all’

by Rip Bulkeley

Only the old world could provide
the means by which to reach the new,
wreck timbers soiled by the tide
of history which a stumbling crew
have cobbled for a rough canoe,
then launched with hope for all our sakes
despite the fact, which they well knew,
that politicians make mistakes.

It need not, surely, be denied
that Jeremy has blundered too.
How could he not, when vilified
by hacks from here to Timbuctoo
who yearn to cage him in their zoo,
then smear across their mental jakes
the headline revelation: ‘Ooh!
This politician makes mistakes!’?

Our man pays no one else to hide
his defects from the public view.
He’s neither schooled nor prettified;
his faults and merits are all true
and benefits from this accrue.
A voter from the balance makes
an informed choice: this much virtue;
this politician; some mistakes.

Envoi
Let none of this bewilder you,
divert you from the greater stakes
which some would have you misconstrue:
Which politicians? Which mistakes?

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