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

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
Wednesday, 31 May 2017 18:33

Death Chant of Capitalism’s Handmaidens

Written by
in Poetry

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
Saturday, 27 May 2017 15:44

At Shannon

Written by
in Poetry

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
K2_PUBLISHED_ON Monday, 15 May 2017 18:58

The Great Repeal

in Poetry
Written by

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
K2_PUBLISHED_ON Sunday, 14 May 2017 06:50

Corbyn's Banner

in Poetry
Written by

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?

Parcel of Masochists
Wednesday, 03 May 2017 20:52

Parcel of Masochists

Written by
in Poetry

Parcel of Masochists
after 'Parcel of Rogues' by Robert Burns

by Kevin Higgins

What we’re fashioning for you is muscular and wobbly
as the pornographic ghost of something that can never be. We stand
for the crucial few against the barbarous shrieks of the many;
strong and stable as the Blenheim Palace walls.

Your granny, a supporter of ours since at least
thirteen eighty one, will be recycled to make
a bag-for-life that’ll go on to be forgotten
in one of the finer antique cabinets in Belgravia,
and be ecstatic at our forgetting.

When we make you prove the third baby,
you couldn’t quite bring yourself to kill,
is progeny of the maniac who imposed
himself on you in a November alleyway – and so
tax deductible under section five c– you’ll know
you brought the question on yourself. Stable
and strong we stand as the Blenheim Palace walls
against the barbarous shrieks of the many.

Your other two children, they’ll want to kiss
our tanned cattle skin pants, when the schools we envisage
for them ensure they overcome their potential, become
to stupid what Kenya is to long distance running,
what the late Felix Unger is to sinus infections.
Strong and stable as the Blenheim Palace walls
stand we for the crucial few.

Even the birdsong in your summer garden
will be disembodied and sold as a ringtone
on custom-built mobile phones only available
particular days of the week from a forward
looking outlet at Zurich Airport.

Once we’ve the contract for that
signed, we come for what
remains of you. And secretly glad
to see us burst
your door, we both know
you’ll wetly be.

Poem for Jeremy Corbyn
Tuesday, 25 April 2017 21:30

Poem for Jeremy Corbyn

Written by
in Poetry

Poem for Jeremy Corbyn
(parable of the signpost and the weathercock)

by Merryn Williams

The weathercock is varnished gilt,
rotates in every wind.
The signpost marks the road that mounts,
the miles you left behind.

You’ve walked so far, your breath is short;
with jaded eyes you scan
a universe of spin and spite
to find an honest man.

A paper storm invades your street;
the words return to air.
You pause, undress some walking suit
and find there’s nothing there.

Without a storm, the puppets sag,
the paper turns to dust.
Yet still you’ll walk a thousand miles
to find a man you trust.

This poem first appeared in the book POEMS FOR JEREMY CORBYN, edited by the author, published by Shoestring last year.

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