|Saturday, December 5th, 2015|
|OUT OF THE QUARREL WITH OURSELVES WE MAKE POETRY
SYRIA DECEMBER THIRD
My words are useless. They will not prevent
a single starving child or stitch in place
an arm torn-off or smooth acid burned face
or turn aside the bloodiest event
heart can conceive. Perhaps announce my grief
in organ tones of sorrow, bring a tear
to hardest heart's stone eye. i disappear
from my best work. A poet is a thief
who stands inside the mirror of her eyes
watches the world bleed, but I cannot change
the pieces that I steal, that I arrange
in pleasing shapes. At best I offer lies
pretend that art can make what's damaged whole.
I damn myself pretending to console.
|Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015|
|Too sick at heart to write well
To 67 Labour MPs
Gold tongues and lion hearts are worthless trash.
Virtues that history will not recall.
We do not care what reasons made you fall.
Ambition, pique, or principle or cash.
It is the crime and not the motive weighs
so heavy, breaks our hearts, loses our trust.
It's hard to hate you now but hate we must
to keep our anger hot. When each page says
how right you were to take us all for fools.
You are the clever ones with clear bright eyes
yet sell yourself so cheap, tell stupid lies
corrupt your virtues into broken tools
All that you were for this one day you sold
For jobs which go with power which goes with gold.
|End time bollocks
Here's another amplification. As I understand it, one of the differences between Al-Qaeda and Daesh/ISIL is that both have an end time theology but that Al Baghdadi believes himself entitled to declare himself caliph with minimal authority from theologians and start the clock ticking whereas Al Qaeda defer to the major universities to let them know when the end times start.
This is private Islamic business - which I may have hopelessly mis-stated - and for Muslims to sort out among themselves.
However, one thing that the Christian world could do is de-escalate Christian theology about the End Time. The Christian Right in the US and elsewhere started the clock ticking long ago, and this has particular ramifications for politics. Part of this is the assumption that eg equal marriage is a provocation to god and evidence for climate change is a sign of his wrath.. There is also the stuff about Obama or Putin being the Antichrist. More importantly, in relation to Middle Eastern affairs, there is the backing of Israel beyond all reason on the assumption that the Apocalypse kicks off with a lot of Israelis suddenly converting to Christianity and the rest all dying horribly. The Israelis find this belief on the part of most Republicans and many others convenient - bar the conversion/horrible death stuff.
I am suggesting a convention of those major branches of Christianity who think this is all impious bollocks to say so, loudly. I don't normally think the Pope should tell other Christians that something is heretical nonsense, but in this instance...
If you want to put out a signal, that might be one of the ones to put out
|More Jarvis bollocks
Intelligence about command and control is of two kinds. 1 Electronic tracing of GPS chips etc. This tells you where the chip is but not who is there with it - thus, blown up hospitals and schools readily provided for propaganda purposes.
2. Special forces infiltrators on rooftops with binoculars and laser sights. That might mean you get someone you want to kill but bombs aren't bullets and you get eg the building he is next to eg school or hospital.
Also, of course, Daesh believe in 5 caliphs before the End. Al Baghdadi expects he will die. Leaving him alive buggers up the prophesies he relies on.
|Why I think Dan Jarvis is wrong
It's important to examine Dan Jarvis' case for voting for bombing, because he is going endlessly to be cited as the persuasive Labour case. I have to say I am not convinced.
1. He assumes that the RAF is superior to other air forces in precision bombing and can therefore reliably strike against Daesh's command and control points within Raqqa. He implies but does not state that this can be done without harm to civilians - this seems implausible especially because he does not state how the RAF is going to know with certainty where those C&C points in Raqqa are - reliable intelligence sources? Really?
2. He blusters about ground forces - he is clearly sceptical about Cameron's figure of 70,000 but 'It reminds me of the dilemma I faced when commanding Afghan soldiers whose knowledge was invaluable but whose competencies were questionable in other areas. Sometimes you have to work with what you have'.
a - like Afghanistan was a huge success
b- the ground forces in Syria include a lot of Al Qaeda whose argument with Daesh is real but impenetrable.
He acknowledges that Cameron has a lot of explaining to do but thinks it can be deferred until after the bombing starts.
3. He continually poses a false dichotomy between action - ie bombing plus other avenues like chasing money, diplomatic efforts and so on- and inaction - those avenues without bombing. Clearly this is untrue; he also assumes, without much evidence, that Cameron will pursue those other avenues in the face of the fact that doing so effectively would mean taking a tough line with our allies.
4. He talks as if Daesh were the only 'new fascists' in the game - this is trasnparently untrue and renders everything he says about Atlee and WW2 a piece of rhetorical nonsense.
5. He argues that bombing Daesh will make Britain's streets safer. My own view is that since Daesh and other groupes long ago moved from revenge to provocation in their deployment of terror is that this is as much nonsense as the assumption by anti-war forces that not bombing will make British streets safer.
I fear that Jarvis is groping for reasons that will enable him to vote in a way that positions him as the candidate to replace Corbyn as leader; I am not accusing him of entire insincerity but, since he acknowledges that he is voting on the basis of a thin margin of reasons, I fear his judgement in the matter,
After reading his arguments I still think joining in an incoherent, not especially competent and immoral bombing campaign with allies who are not actually pursuing the same goals is both stupid and wrong.http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2015/12/case-action-against-isil-syria-outweighs-case-inaction
|Saturday, November 14th, 2015|
|People have called for us to write about Beirut
FOR ADEL TERMOS OF BEIRUT
How mourn not knowing how the spice oil smell
crates between stalls meat hanging fresh baked rolls
the crowded bus exhaust walls peppered with small holes
posters I could not read? This man, Adel
made a decision that I could not make
sure knowing both he and his child were dead
saw guessed planned weighed a second in his head
Heard detonation saw a window break
glass splinters in the air. Saw at his side
another man with death sewn in his vest
prayed quickly for them both to find the best
threw the man down was blasted daughter died
so many others lived. My words are weak
beside the witness. See her tears her shriek.
|Another 1311 poem
Our skeleton remembers every blow.
Each trauma lines our teeth with fine dark rings
Our mother's pain deep in our blood vein sings
Our skull holds knowledge that we cannot know
Yet feel deep rooted as a tooth that throbs
or wind that twists an air knife in our gut.
Throat razor slash turns to a paper cut.
Old memory returned in dreams that robs
us of our sleep. Forgotten when we wake
save for the pain that haunts us long past dawn
the slamming doors of ivory and horns
so hard they almost splinter. And this ache
persists. Cannot escape. Hurts us to blind
we cannot kiss it better, but be kind.
|Inadequate but what can you do or say?
There is a dance that people play with knives.
A circle forms. One cuts another's throat.
Whose cut whose turn. The sweet squeal of the stoat
teeth in a fieldmouse. It's the end of lives
of peace and charm. It has its own high step.
Boot click against the floor. We know the tune
Fiddled by Mr Bones. We'll hear it soon
Crusader dance to it HEP HEP HEP HEP.
All we can do is sleep to numb the pain
Dream of the small canal, an autumn kiss.
The city of my heart has come to this.
It happens now. It happens soon. Again.
Love one another. We knew this for years.
Embrace no harm feed hungry dry all tears.
|Sunday, November 8th, 2015|
For every poet gas flame in their throats
Who scramble scrawled last verses in the mud
Each child whose flower blasted in the bud,
Musician detonation deafened notes
Nurses their wounds unbandaged and no bed
To make for them except a random grave
Civilian dead whom voting working praying did not save.
This is the day we're silent for the dead.
Whom praying cannot help. And there is gold
In vaults somewhere that's smeared with so much blood.
Some planner might have stopped it - yes they could -
Yet profited from calculation cold.
Colder than all those dead. Let memory
Be rage as well as sorrowsympathy.
|Sunday, November 1st, 2015|
|A weather poem
Grey brown sometimes it seeps into your house
Particle droplet heavy in your chest
It closes in at night. Unwelcome guest.
In through each door and hole thin as a mouse
that leaves its small black droppings on your plate.
It wipes more distant towers from your sight
As if not there. It fuzzes breaks up light
as if your eyes were wet. It makes you late
as everything is slow. It eats up days
when hours are so few. You find it hard to wake
because it veils each dawn that does not break
so much as stagger. Yet autumn mists amaze
As charcoal shading can delight the eye,
turn days to mezzotint or to grisaille.
|Friday, October 30th, 2015|
|This is sort of a poem for Tara but it is actually about one of my dead
A broken dancer mane of wine red hair
cell pacing pale.From time to time she'd start
to step a form from bed to wall. Her heart
brother had torn from. Should not have been there.
Did nothing. As it happens. If she had
should not. Her flutter wounded pride; her face
lost his. His blue friends threw her to this place.
Wanted to smash her. In the end they had.
Six months alone no hope. Shattered once free
white Dresden fragile. Never could quite mend
Stiff as the damaged arm she could not bend
loose in her art. And it could have been me.
Talked us free once then left. Accept the blame
that burned my cheek. Guilt sorrow naked flame.
|Wednesday, October 28th, 2015|
|A poem about mourning
How to we comfort friends far off who mourn?
We did not know their dead and never will
except as names. And yet those dead names still
beat in their grieving hearts. Words are outworn,
the ones so often used to soothe console
but all we have. I'm sorry for your loss
or for your trouble. Slowly grey-green moss
grows over names on headstones. There's a hole
there in your life unfilled and unassuaged
I cannot help with verse. But I will try.
From my own griefs along with you I'll cry
For my own deaths I've wept. At fate I've raged.
In sympathy, these feelings that we share
for those who were, but are no longer there.
|Sunday, October 18th, 2015|
I starve ache hollowed out. I will not feed
though teeth core burn from throb referring pain.
I have not killed and will not kill again
even from hunger. Am too dry to bleed
though wet from lust. It is not blood I crave.
Nor will I seek their worship and refuse
if offered. Ecstasies I will not choose
nor suck throngs empty, rule not nor enslave.
Elderly, limping, tired. I will not eat.
I will be what the years have made of me
nor drain their white bared generosity
supple and smooth and red and salt and sweet.
I will not change and I will pass the test
Remain myself and fade into the west.
|Friday, October 16th, 2015|
|A more cheerful poem
I glance along the shelves. She looks askance
over her glasses. Thinks I don't belong
She asks what I am doing, but she's wrong.
I have a member's ticket. So we dance
Apology for doubting. I accept
but still she wonders just how I got in
wearing a biker's jacket. So I win
her trust, by quoting Sappho, How she wept!
That Greek! It is a language we can share
remember to be silent. On the desk
We lie. She snaps my bra. It's like burlesque
How delicate we tease. I stroke her hair.
And this is how we paper over class
Audacity, quotations, a cute arse.
|Thursday, October 15th, 2015|
|On our times
Wrap scarves around your mouth. The air is thick.
You need a torch to find your garden path.
Ten minutes outside means you need a bath.
You cough up sooty phlegm. It makes you sick.
I knew this as a child. It took an hour
to walk home from my school. To cross a street
risked life. Sometimes you could not see your feet.
Then it was smog. Today it is their power.
Lies, rape, theft, murders more than you can tell,
and none of us is safe. One day they come
the next you scream out as they break your thumb
'Do it to Julia'. And in her cell
She shouts the same. 'To her and not to me'.
We choke alone on what we cannot see.
|Tuesday, October 13th, 2015|
|My thoughts on Leon Brittan
Let us conduct a thought experiment.
Let us assume for the sake of this thought experiment that Leon Brittan was, personally, utterly innocent of all the accusations that have been brought against him.
Leon Brittan was Home Secretary. That means he was in charge of the oversight of both the police and the security services. While he was in charge, somehow neither the police nor the security services ever told him that a serial sexual offender, Jimmy Saville, was regularly socializing with both the Prime Minister and the Royal family. Moreover, since Saville spent several Christmases at Chequers and so did most of the Cabinet, Brittan was, whether he knew it or not, in the somewhat invidious position of socializing with Saville on several occasions. Either he knew and was silent, or was utterly incompetent, to an extent that makes him complicit by omission,
Somehow, on his watch, Kincora was covered up. Jersey was covered up. Cyril Smith was able to bully journalists with people who posed as Special Branch while raping children with impunity. Parts of the BBC were full of rapists.
At least one dossier was handed to Brittan which he either lost or placed in the circular file.
People are upset with Tom Watson for calling Brittan evil. Even assuming his utter personal innocence as far as actions go, Brittan and his predecessors and successors in one of the high offices of state have to be held accountable to all the victims of abuse in those years for what he did not do to protect them.
I think evil covers it.
|Be silent, be careful
The worst temptation is to be polite
Ignore the single blood drop on his chin,
pass him a tissue maybe.We have been
so tactful. When he goes out every night
and comes back fat and happy, never look
too closely at the stains upon his tie.
They might be egg, or jam. We always lie
but mostly to ourselves. High on a hook
he carves a new born infant limb by limb
savours the char its skin leaves on the grill.
You know that if he always eats his fill
you might be safe, so do speak well of him.
Here's what they fought for. Now you have the vote
Use it to keep his teeth far from your thro
|Monday, September 21st, 2015|
|This is a little timely
One stinging insect soon becomes a swarm.
Their stings burst fester soon more blackfly hatch.
Bat them or net them. Everyone you catch
begets another which will wish you harm.
Tied down the little people pluck your hair
strand at a time to knot you down some more.
Each rope will scratch you deep and cut you sore
Your skin peels off until there's nothing there
but raw and bleeding flesh and showing bone.
Your friends desert they cannot stand the smell
walking away they say they wish you well
And this is rumour. Friendless and alone.
Who were so great. You're left to roll in dung
long left the sin you shat when you were young.
|Saturday, September 19th, 2015|
|A poem for these times
I wish I could be kind to every friend
Could never raise my voice or cause them tears
or rip fond roots out grown in hearts for years.
Refuse to give in times when all things bend,
Pool deliquescent mulch of compromise.
We sell our souls. Each tiny increment
has consequences that we never meant.
Who meant so well, became that we despise.
The buyers want us all nor leave a part
that's incorrupted. We will make our bone
from others' blood, kiss Judas on the phone.
Sometimes a single word will break a heart.
So, stern but not fanatic my cold eye.
Turn away harsh and only after cry.