Stuart McFarlane

Stuart McFarlane

Stuart McFarlane taught English for many years to asylum seekers in London. He has had poems published in a few online journals.

Rishi's Mission and The Charge of the Tory Brigade
Monday, 06 May 2024 08:08

Rishi's Mission and The Charge of the Tory Brigade

Published in Poetry

Image above by Martin Gollan

Rishi's Mission

by Stuart McFarlane

Rishi, your mission, should you choose to accept it,
is to win a majority at the next election.
This tape, like the Tories,
will self destruct in 5 seconds.
Your first task will be to assemble a team;
you can flick through the photographs here.
Your second task will be to hold it together
for more than a week.
Your third task will be to reflect on how
you might have have done it all differntly;
how, when and where, it all started to go wrong.
You can't blame yourself entirely,
though you are the man at the top.
True, you were a woeful performer,
wooden, inept and incompetent,
but, really, you were undone by the
spectres of Johnson and Truss;
always there at you shoulder.

 

The Charge of the Tory Brigade

With apologies to Lord Tennyson

by Stuart McFarlane

Traitors to right of him.
Traitors to left of him.
'What now?' Rishi wondered.
Just another barrage
from Suella, Farage,
and his days were numbered.

The Daily Mail, Express,
still he could not suppress-
hostile headlines thundered!
Might he just be reprieved,
like Mafeking, relieved,
or properly scundered?

His not to reason why,
His but to do and die.
Onward, Rishi, onward!
Rally the back benches-
and out of the trenches,
or ever encumbered!

Threaten deselection?
Call a snap election?
So had others blundered.
And allies he could count
on would not quite amount
to more than a hundred.

Traitors to right of him.
Traitors to left of him.
In the Lords they slumbered.
O, Rishi can't you see
your party soon will be
all utterly sundered!

Gaze on Gaza
Saturday, 16 March 2024 08:00

Gaze on Gaza

Published in Poetry

Gaze on Gaza

by Stuart McFarlane, with image above by Martin Gollan

Gaze on Gaza; and weep. See the child in A and E,
the child, alone, in A and E.
See the man who stares,
the man who only stares.
See the woman who screams,
the woman who only screams.

The bloody bandage, discarded limb, the blasted street, all rubble.
Thick smoke billowing; low down
a tepid sun that strains to shine.

See another bloodied child,
the mother who still screams, and a father who only stares.
See what may not be unseen.
Try, if you can, to avert you eyes. Gaze on Gaza.
Gaze on Gaza. And weep.

By any other name
Thursday, 14 March 2024 19:47

By any other name

Published in Poetry

By any other name

by Stuart McFarlane

Now the school of semantics is fully enrolled,
we begin to believe the lies we’re being sold.
‘Proportional response’, ‘Collateral damage’.
‘It’s a situation we feel we can manage’.
Politicians, as ever, so sensible,
queue up to defend the indefensible.
The Israelis freely act without constraint.
The Americans continue to urge restraint.
Schools, housing, hospitals; all are destroyed,
yet, still, euphemistic terms are employed.
Artillery posts now even have trouble
finding a building to reduce to rubble.
And, as Gaza withers, festers and rots
the diplomats tie themselves up in knots.
‘Not a ceasefire, a humanitarian pause’.
Treating the symptoms, not the underlying cause.
But Israel miscalculated, and crossed a red line,
in denying the idea of a Palestine.
For an idea does not so easily die;
all the dead children of Gaza so testify.
How can the fighting now ever cease?
There’s not the faintest prospect of peace.
By conducting such a senseless war
they've only ensured centuries more.
You can justify anything, if you try hard enough
but, deep down, do we realize, it’s all so much guff.
So, don’t pretend, as you kill, wound and maim,
it's not murder; by any other name.