Excerpt for Songs of Struggle by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Songs of Struggle

Linda Marshall

© Linda Marshall 7/10/2017




Random thoughts

The Soup of Tears

No contest

Lost Souls


In Praise of the Ordinary Joe and Josephine

Against Toil

Willing Serfs

The British General Election

Britannian Rules

The Hyperboreans and Others

Witch Hunters

Lords of Misrule

Rough beasts slouching

Born again


The New World Order’s Sinister Plot

The Paranoids are Out to Get You

Elegy for the Victims of the Troubles

For the People of Paris

Cheap Thrills


Donald Speaks

In Memoriam Trayvon Martin


The freedom that you cherish is the freedom to kill’

In the Middle of Nowhere

In Praise of Moderation

Making Things Better

Future Dreams

Hymn of Hope for the Future


The poems in this collection are all about freedom, justice, fairness, tolerance, compassion and the other things I regard as being political and social virtues. Some of them express anger and some celebrate struggle against oppression, cruelty, falsehood and even murder.

All polemical poetry is written from a point of view and my position is no different. My politics are non-aligned and cannot be fitted smoothly into any left/right divide. Sometimes my anger is satirical, sometimes frankly confrontational. Other times I try to be reflective and compassionate.

I chose the image of a swallow for the cover of my book as in my culture the swallow is a symbol of freedom.

Hopefully there will be food for thought in all these poems for my readers.


I fix my gaze

Upon the stars,

Weary of life's maze,

A cheap bazaar.

A cheap bazaar,

Weary of life's maze,

Upon the stars

I fix my gaze.

Random Thoughts

Nothing is important any more:

At least that's what they tell me;

As the world crumbles away in folly and hate

I think maybe they're right.

Listening to the endless media roar

From people with something to sell me,

The best I can do is sit and wait.

I'm too worn out to fight.

Life seems just anything but real,

And even death seems no big deal;

Looks like earth's misery will never end,

And there's nothing worthwhile to defend.

Best we can do is love our little world

Of family, friends and all that;

No more martyrs with banners unfurled:

A mug's a mug for all that.

The soup of tears

out of the tears we shed

there is enough salt water

to season soup and bread,

rich with the meat of slaughter

stir the tears you cry,

let them blend in well,

breathe on them with a sigh

to make the mixture gel

No contest

It’s not a case of who can shed more tears,

Tell tales of pain and grief across the years,

Recite a litany of shame and fears,

Dwell most in darkness when the night appears,

Or ghosts and nightmares drive you towards weirs

Or to the banks of calmer looking meres,

Susancide in your heart, as upward rears

Full-throttled in rage, the smudges and the smears

Blotting your copybook. For all the sneers

They throw your way, the condescending jeers,

The insults walloped into both your ears,

The patronising comments that, like shears,

Cut clean away your hopes. The false veneers

Painted on life, to prettify the spheres

Of dominance they think only inheres

To them, not worthless other gondoliers,

Trying to navigate like charioteers

The paths of life while still not changing gears,

When all of us are really pioneers,

Trekking through danger, wondering if sincere’s

Enough to cut it, when the buccaneers

Are out to get you. No one’s life coheres

Except when mud is thrown; then it adheres

To you like glue. In poisoned atmospheres

All we can do is try and dodge the spears.

It’s not a contest about grief and pain,

Trauma or suffering, self-hatred, self-disdain;

The enemy we fear most lives within:

Can we be human, or a mannequin,

On mute display to an indifferent crowd,

Just living statues dressed in a cold shroud?

Lost souls

We are all lost souls,

Whether we were charred in the ashes of Auschwitz,

Whether we are slain for diamonds in the Congo,

Smalled to the most infinitesimal point

Of unimportance, we remain

Human, of the earth earthly,

Our breath at one with others,

Our hearts beating time together:

Let our lost souls

Be finally found


It wasn’t my fault:


Made me do it

I was only obeying orders:

If I hadn’t followed orders chaos would have resulted

If I hadn’t done what I did

Somebody else would have done it

They told me what I did was right

So I believed them

They told me all values were relative

So nothing mattered;

You can pick and choose

From morality’s smorgasbord

The weakest go to the wall:

It’s all about the survival of the fittest

It’s just bad karma:

They obviously got what they deserved

From misdeeds in a previous life

I didn’t think things would go that far:

It was just a prank that got out of hand

I didn’t know it was wrong

Until you told me

Surely you didn’t expect me

To think for myself?

In praise of the ordinary Joe and Josephine:

we're not like you,

doing a cushy job for loads of wonga;

we see life true,

which is why we've decided that no longer

will we believe your bribes, your threats, your lies;

the time's long past for wool pulled over our eyes

but it's our hands and brains

that built the Pyramids and more beside;

we might still skulk in drains,

but for all that we're entitled to our pride,

seeing as how without us, nothing would be done,

so patronising us is out, my son

if we revolt (as from time to time we do,

not often, though, preferring to stay calm)

your days are numbered, sinking into glue

and vainly trying to raise a false alarm,

so don't forget: your dream that you're our masters

is just based on a load of sticking plasters

Against toil

work, labour, call it what you will

brings only misery and desolation,

turning earth's natural garden to a wilderness

where even the roots are destroyed in endless grasping

for some imagined Utopia; bud and blossom

poisoned at source, in this mad insatiable quest

to build higher, turn more land into a desert,

and after all, you can't eat money;

so be still, attune with nature:

left to herself, she will provide for all.

Willing serfs

the saddest thing is seeing how deceived

those drugged upon the valium of greed

(although it's jam tomorrow, never now)

have hypnotised themselves, truly believed

that freedom's flower is just a noxious weed,

true liberty's being yoked to the boss' plough

The British General Election 2015

We are alive, in spite of the deadness around us,

the apathy, unwillingness to act,

the fear of passion, openness, expression

of feelings too removed from the common herd,

who seem always to linger, watching us

for secret signals of dissenting thoughts,

and yes, in theory it's allowed

to voice contrary opinions, though

if you do so in earshot of the wrong people

you will be hounded, traduced, trashed, even attacked.

The day of 'thought crime' and 'newspeak'

so long upon us now

we hardly notice how conditioned we are

as only robotic platitudes are heaved

out of mouths stuck in attitudes half-believed

as Wyndham Lewis wrote: 'what wind

serves to advance an honest mind'

or as Yeats said: 'the best lack all conviction, while the worst

are full of passionate intensity'

or as Lawrence wrote, 'oh build your ship of death,

for you will need it,

for the voyage of oblivion awaits you'

Britannian Rules

Some of us know nothing, wilfully ignorant of past glories, miseries, injustices, living instead
In a perpetual present, a millisecond of time fleetingly captured in selfies, terrified
Of losing touch with the virtual world, imagining they know everything, and everyone else
is a fool or cheat or liar, except their favoured idols, as they prostrate themselves, senile groupies,
Worshipping at the shrines of Corbyn, Sheeran, Ariana Grande and the rest, hearing only
the shallow, superficial, bulldozed and brainwashed by the relentless hammering into their head
Of platitudes, half-truths, lies and evasions, longing for a saviour to deliver them from the pain and responsibility of independent thinking,
Desperately yearning to be enslaved
Or there are those, still dazzled by the fake lustre of an imagined greatness that, if it ever existed,
Vanished so long ago. They too have their idols, most of them mercifully dead – Churchill, Thatcher, Enoch Powell, obsessed with immigrants, Muslims, Gypsies, foreigners, village greens, white skin, longing for Laura Norder to set them free from crime, terrorism, and, most of all, change
Both longing in different ways for salvation, a mystical deliverance from their fears,
Myths are reality to them, and the real world an unpleasant experience to be avoided at all costs
The freeloaders and scammers, the welfare bums and the tax dodgers, the hearts too hard to care about the misery of the homeless, the mentally ill, war veterans, yet happy enough to give to charity if the suffering is safely overseas, out of sight
Every millennium in history ushers in ages of false hope, real fear, prophecies of
Doom and boom, and eternal massacres in the name of love and compassion. So each new incarnation of belief leads to carnal slaughter
What have we done to ourselves, our children, our country, our world? Why is everything now tuned to the wavelength of stupidity? Why have our hearts become unable to feel real compassion,
Only the approved, sanitised version? Why are we so perpetually asleep, unaware, insensitive?
Why have we lost individual identity, and yet become so obsessed with the cult of self?
Does any hope at all remain, or must we slumber on
Until the final sleep of death consumes us?

The Hyperboreans and others

Here we stand, at the back of the North Wind,

a tiny island afloat, its way long lost,

too focused on media sham, sound-bites, celebrity trivia,

game shows to rot the mind, endless excuses

for superficial success in unimportant areas

of life, and utter failure in the big

demands life makes upon us. Once

we led the world in freedom, progress,

tolerance, fairness. For all our faults

(and I’m not naïve enough to deny

they were often huge and rank)

we honestly tried to do good.

now hysterical rants pass for passion,

hatred spews out from right and left alike,

rampant misogyny and rampant misandry,

xenophobia, racism, religious bigotry,

turning our land into a living sewer

choked with bile and unrighteous anger.

our people, shamed not only by our leaders

but by our teachers, our healthcare workers,

social workers, police, journalists, lawyers;

I've found more integrity among criminals

than those who dominate our nation.

the poor are kinder, more generous

than the greedy, grasping 'aspiring' helots

who want only to enslave those beneath themselves

and kick them into the gutter so they can stand

on their faces and climb one rung up the ladder.

I know one day

the sea will erode every inch of our land

and even swallow up all terra firma

upon our planet, just as the sun above

will one day bring an end to life on earth.

without compassion, tolerance and freedom

perhaps we'll all deserve it in the end.

Witch hunters

now that the unprivileged have spoken

the value of their voices is denied;

in the eyes of the smug metropolitan elite

(who gaze heavenwards in astonished disbelief)

the great unwashed have broken all the rules

now, having spoken out for freedom, we

are trashed on every side by the media ghouls:

racists, xenophobes, morons, unable to see

the truth they claim to have held up to our eyes;

we are all witches now, and we must burn

Lords of Misrule

they say that ignorance is bliss,

and wisdom is sheer folly;

they say our shackles are a kiss,

true joy is melancholy

they say that those who disagree

with them, are simply stupid,

and only minds where hate runs free

show the true soul of Cupid

they say a prison's liberty,

and freedom can't be found

on earth, in sky, or in the sea:

just on the exercise ground

they say our hearts are full of hate

because their own are icicles;

they say that opening a gate

is like fish riding bicycles

they say how we, the plebs and proles,

must be obedient slaves,

serving with body, mind, heart, souls,

till we lie in our graves

well, here's the rub: suppose you're wrong

and lesser breeds are right;

why should we simply tag along

with you, give up our fight?

the metropolitan elite

and all their sycophants

will be forced at last to make retreat,

stop talking utter pants

those who prefer to be misruled

by arrogant deceivers

scream that the idiot unschooled

should all be true believers

Rough beasts slouching


a mountain capped with snow

a coldly blue sky

we wait alone


out of the silence at first faint groans

trouble the still air

then the screaming begins

the limitless light embroiders

the thin blood of the familiar victims


menace is everywhere

dark shadows threaten with unsteady gestures

to seize whatever is within their power


our skins, irrespective of colour

are rasped by an unforgiving sun

this unexpected heat wave

presages perhaps an avalanche


out of our fortified barracks we emerge

blinking at brainwashed children carrying banners

hearing their shrill hysterical voices

recycling the propaganda they have learnt


swallows leave the scene

flying as always in search of freedom

trees flex their roots and branches

perhaps in secret dread of a coming woodcutter


oceans overflow

the ground erupts in earthquakes

volcanoes choke the air


why are the deluded minions

so eager to drink the poison draught

so willing to believe the discordant trumpets

announcing the failed millennium to come


stars fall on the earth from the troubled sky

metal crumbles like paper

rock dissolves instantly to sand


we who try to love

in spite of the way the world is

hug one another closely

as if that could save us


our eyes lock gazes with each other

seeking to shut out the flames and smoke

burning to the jubilant cries of pleasure

of assembled multitudes tangled in briars

taking nettles for dock leaves


our gaze, our touching

such little things

to hold against the advancing tsunami


we turn away at last

compelled to watch the horror show


no longer holding one another

it is not only our bodies that feel

so suddenly cold


flowers fade or are crushed

everything kindly is forgotten

we stand almost outside time and space

as those who have only answers and never questions

quick march against the retreating tide of love


all we have left now to defend ourselves

against the rough beasts slouching ever closer

is the evanescent wisp of love

nothing more than that

its flimsy tensile strength

surely too little to withstand

the encroaching darkness threatening everything

Born Again

Out of the leaping flames arose

The parthogenesis of your unexpected

Arrival, mimicry of yet another

Failed revolution, impersonating yet another

False dawn, fake promise of resurrection

New heaven on this stale earth

The dead bones vibrate with sighs

The awakened dust dances in re-enacted

Eclipses of the sun. We who are neither

Prophets of winter, heralds of spring, are either

Deluded dunces gazing in stupefaction

Or withered embers scattered on a cold hearth

We must learn to become used to life again

Discover how to wake, rather than sleep

And shed our dreams as snakes slough off their skin

Say our goodbyes to bitterness, for none

Can truly mastermind our last escape

From the false promise of our life’s cocaine


the sea's white horses

gallop towards us,

then recede

the sheep imagine

the wolves that shear and eat them

to be friendly sheepdogs

the wind tousles

the long hair covering

Lady Godiva

across the world

emperors stand revealed

in their nude nothingness

yes, the robbers remain,

still able to convince malleable fools

they mean them well

the fugitive imagines

somewhere in the distance lies a country

that will welcome him or her

the prey imagines

itself to be

the mighty, invincible hunter

a consuming fire of rage

gives light and heat

but without warmth

the coldness envelops us all,

the certainties of the doubters frantically

denying the evidence of the reality around them

love no longer lives within,

all that remains to us now

is rape, and, in a gentler key, mere lust

The New World Order's Sinister Plot



we must watch out:

I've heard a rumour that right

now on this very earth of ours, the New World Order

is planning a new conspiracy against us!


they've tried liberalism -

washed away by a sea of conservative bile;

fascists, Nazis and Communists

all tried to set their jackboots on our necks


  capitalism too -

another trick of theirs; like socialism

it sounded fair and reasonable at first

till you read the small print


  now the latest conspiracy

they're trying to make us fall for -

it's called multiculturalism!

and it's an attempt to destroy all ethnicity


  the plot is fiendishly simple:

let people love whoever they want,

regardless of the colour of their skin,

irrespective of their ethnic DNA


  what a shameful conspiracy!

imagine not wanting to preserve

the purity of our race -

white to white,

brown to brown and black to black

that's the proper way


  but these dastardly multiculturalists

like in the dreadful Blue Mink song

want to make the world a giant melting pot,

so blacks and browns and whites

all get jumbled up together

through 'interbreeding'


  my skin is brown,

just like my mother's is;

my father is a red-haired Irishman,

my husband is a white-skinned Englishman


  my skin is dark enough that

I've been called Paki or wog


  yet I fell in love and married

a man with white skin


  obviously the two of us

are racial traitors,

part of the NWO's disgraceful plot

to miscegenate the world


  yeah, right!

if you think that love

or even lust

is some conspiracy

you don't understand feelings,

natural human instincts,

stronger than all the crap

oppressors throw at people


  as a tree

there is nothing sinister about a beech,

but we all know what beech-tree wood -

auf Deutsch, Buchenwald -

signifies, and always will

The paranoids are out to get you

the paranoids hound me,

lurking behind every street corner,

peering around every half-open door.

I am on to them

and their conspiracy

against us all

the paranoids hound me,

in supermarket queues,

gazing suspiciously into my basket,

or if I laugh at a joke with friends

they stare at me in high suspicion.

the paranoids hound me,

at the school gates,

wondering how I dare bring my children there

to pollute the air of their offspring,

wondering if I can even read or write

the paranoids hound me,

even at Christmas my mother-in-law

leaves my name off the family cards.

only in the honest openness of trees,

the welcoming embrace of a flowing river

or the jangle of the wind chimes in my garden

can I find respite from their attentions.

but I am on to them,

and their conspiracy

against us all

Elegy for the victims of the Troubles

our blood stained the brown earth red,

and even though flowers sprouted on our graves

they too faded. For years

mothers wept at the loss of children,

girls fell silent as their sweethearts died,

and within the survivors

love ebbed away,

replaced at best

by an abstract pity,

at worst by hatred

and coldness inside

all the bravado of the bullying 'war'

as the men in balaclavas

robbed a generation

of the chance to love,

denied homecoming

to parent, sibling, child,

who emerged instead

into as empty a world

as the cold steel of the assassins' heart

the living remember, and need to tell

the new generation the truth so long denied

by IRA and UDA alike,

that it was neither inevitable nor necessary

for so much innocent blood to be shed,

that the trumpeted cause

was never worth all the murder,

that for all the beatings, the knee-cappings,

all the tarring and feathering,

all the bombings and shootings -

all futile, evil exertions,

an attempt through fear to make people groan

into slow surrender -

achieved nothing

battered and bruised

with the long years of suffering,

still we need to rediscover

how to kiss, to hug, be open,

not look forever over our shoulder,

check our car for bombs,

wonder if we dare open the door –

taig and prod,

republican, nationalist, unionist,

all need to reach out

beyond the limitations of ideology

across the contours of hope

and embrace life, its love and joy

For the People of Paris

guns, grenades, more guns:
among the crowds at the concert,
the people sitting in cafes,
a vapour filled the air
as a sad music played its threnody:
'I died in Paris.'
the already half-fallen leaves
shed by the autumn trees
rustle with pain
as the wind's sighs carry them aloft
over the buildings and streets,
over the vanished people, the words:
'I died in Paris.'
in every brick, each grain of soil
your blood, your murdered flesh, cries out
and even if an avalanche of snow
appeared, it could not cover up the sin,
nor the fiercest rainstorm
wash away the endless stain that proclaims:
'I died in Paris.'
each one of you who died
lies together at last
in our shared humanity:
whatever you once were
death, our common destiny,
arrived early, and now you are one:
'You died in Paris.'
somehow in this shared death
the warmth of all that makes us
human, humane,
gives you an equal honour;
you have become the earth and air and water,
you have become symbols of freedom:
'You died in Paris.'
that lonely night
out of the chattering lightning of Kalashnikovs
a beacon of light stood fast,
glowing as a shield against the storm,
a sword against all those who hate life
and wish it joyless:
'we, each one of us, died in Paris.'
through that death
a flower of new life will blossom,
watered by the pure river of our blood:
though we bled in Paris, we live forever;
love is stronger than hate,
and, as was truly said, 'love eats death.'

Cheap Thrills

You get a cheap thrill out of being bullies

Not recognising you’re a bunch of wimps

No balls no brains no honour and above all

No love no empathy and no compassion

You get your kicks from bigging yourself up

Unable to face the total wuss you are

Living by choice in a stinking midden

Pretending a dunghill is sacred truth

You know nothing and understand less

Brainwashed by rote into following falsity

Blaspheming God and worshipping Satan

Doing only the work of the deceiver

You with your smartphones and Twitter feeds

You who simplify the world

Through a distorting lens in which

Only evil is good

Dosing yourself with whizz and coke

To make yourself believe you’re some kind of hero

Rather than the total zero

You are in spite of your drugged-up mind

Your brain is emptier than a drained pool

Unable to think or to perceive the world

Doped on your Satanism you get cheap thrills

From the crystal meth of your sick perversion

You hear but never listen

You see but perceive nothing

You touch but do not feel

You speak but only gaseous wind escapes you

And people worth a million of your sort

Die because of you

You get your cheap thrills out of knowing

You’ve brought more needless misery to life

I am a simple soul

Trying to feel the rhythm of the earth

Feeling the heartbeat of each star and planet

Touching each quark and quasar with my mind

And the vast harmony of the celestial spheres

Plays its delicate music within my spirit

What good is it giving birth

To a life you hope to hold and nurture

Suckle and love and cherish

When all you offer a child for its future

Is the eternal absence that is your presence

Each breath you draw poisons the air around

Each second of your existence turns the world

To a perpetual winter; your excised heart

Seeks to entrap the world in a crust of ice

We who are human remain alive

In spite of the frozen tundra they try to throw over

Our free and compassionate world of love

We will not lie beneath your duvet of frost

You are bland and bleached

Ossified and calcified utterly

Lead runs in your veins rather than honest blood

You fakes you poseurs you hypocritical wimps

You only kill the defenceless

Those unable to fight back

All braver than you

Dying for something that matters

Not for lies and hatred

But for simply joy and truth

Across the poisoned air

Clouds drift in the heavy sky

Mountains of passionate love

Their shed tears irrigating the earth you scorched


to give sanctuary is an act of kindness,

offering help and trust, deserving gratitude

yet issuing forth

from zones of war and poverty

too many damaged people

not simply bite the hand

that feeds and clothes and shelters them

but in their turn

ravage and oppress

those whose only crime

is to show them kindness

their vision has become clouded

as formerly hot blue skies

are forgotten too easily,

and the grey skies above their heads

make their eyes grown dim, lack lustre,

forever focused on their lost horizon

not only under full moons,

when legend expects that the dead walk,

vampires and werewolves prowl,

but even in the blazing light of day

they come to rape and pillage,

cold winds driving them onwards,

the blood-red tide of hate

sweeping them like a descending scimitar

across the hosts who welcome them

your bitterness, your anger and despair

fastens itself upon the wrong targets;

unable to wreak revenge on your oppressors

your turbulent confusion of spirit

rages against the ones who showed you kindness,

and even some of them,

brainwashed by their dogma,

refuse to condemn you,

fearful (or so they say) that to speak out

would give comfort to racists,

and build up walls and citadels

to bar your entry

I accept your anguish,

your bewildered search for meaning

in an alien world,

seeking among the fragments of your past

for pieces to fit together into a mosaic

your history is old,

yet you are also of the future,

this inarticulate rage that bubbles out of you

and explodes against so many random targets

is the melodramatic posturing of certainties

dying within even your own hearts

your roots have tugged away from their native ground;

your leaves and branches flutter, disconnected,

in confused passage through an alien air,

the flesh of your former sandiness

blows away the ashes of what you were

and the only escape is forward now

sanctuary, however bitter a choice,

is refuge, safety from the claws of scorpions,

the webs of designing spiders, a place to feel

human again, no longer crouching in terror

as bombs and guns riddle the landscape

in your sanctuary you have new hope,

a light not brought about by weapons flashing,

and your screams can be only the natural pain

of mothers giving birth

rather than the violence of blood and fire

let the new roses we plant

be fragrant but devoid of thorns,

growing high and nurturing,

a humble testament to human kindness

and the green welcome of new earth

as an eternal sanctuary

Donald speaks

I will make America great again;

God chose me to work His purpose.

Muslims are our mortal enemies:

The hatred they feel for us is the hatred of God,

And all the many Christians and Jews they murder

In sacrifice to their heathen idolatry.

I will win them over with bombs and guns,

Exclusion orders and deportations,

Standing as I do for the true religion,

The gospel of truth and light.

We are in danger of being swamped

By the black tide of Islam

With their fanatical zeal, with murder and hatred

Etched deep within their heartless hearts.

I love America,

I see the threats that surround us

Just as Christ was crucified

So too the savages of Islam

Seek to devour His flock.

To be American is more than a nationality:

It is to be a Christian,

To believe in the liberty not to pay taxes,

To believe in the liberty to kill.

So we Christian folk,

(And the Jews too),

Must stand united in resolution.

America is God's country,

Heaven on earth,

And so I say to you all - God bless America!

In Memoriam Trayvon Martin

all America should kneel,

bow its head in shame

at the anniversary of the murder of Trayvon Martin

your bright eyes

were lifeless as glass replacements

when the hatred and fear of Zimmerman

shut them coffin-tight

your once laughing voice

silent in the undeserved early sleep

your murderer forced on you

if only we could give you back your life,

raise you from your grave,

see you dance in hip-hop

along the streets you knew

our hearts must hold a place for you instead,

another victim needlessly done to death,

another murderer acquitted of his crime

each time it rains, the sky

sheds bucketloads of tears for Trayvon Martin


the same word

with different meanings,

the magazine of a loaded gun,

the magazine you can buy in a shop,

even (in some languages) the shop itself

if I enter a 'magazine shop'

to buy a 'glossy magazine'

will the shop have what I am after?

or do I need to threaten or kill the staff

with the magazine in my gun?

bullets, billets, billhooks or even ballots

stutter the language of fear and hate;

where is the conscience of those who demand

a loaded magazine in every hand?

for all the crocodile tears shed

at yet another unnecessary funeral

(which you can read about in full colour

in the latest issue of our glossy magazine)

only the victim's families truly cry

but the gung-ho magazinistas

remain unmoved,

even when a mother

shouts out at the funeral:

'I gave birth to my children, suckled them;

I gave them milk and life and love:

what have you given except

the bullets from your magazine?'

do you, lovers of magazines,

lie awake at night, your conscience troubled

by the thousands of needless deaths

for which you are to blame?

no, you sleep the drunkard's slumber,

intoxicated with the ecstasy of your power

to hurt, maim, kill; your fear dwarfs everything

else, in your bloated, bullying, cowardly brains

white, black, brown, mixed race,

we are all human, all deserve the same

love and respect; you, magazine lovers,

are deaf and blind as, stony faced,

you swim knee-deep in rivers of carnage

carved out by the magazines you love.

fuck you!

"The freedom that you cherish is the freedom to kill"

to some, a gun is a symbol of freedom;

to others, a sign of oppression.

Is that tears or blood

flowing down the cheeks

of the Statue of Liberty?

some long for the freedom to fire bullets,

to enforce their definition of freedom

through shooting others;

how Maoist the gun lovers are!

The NRA might have used his words:

'political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.'

the nightmare in which you live

is peopled with imaginary enemies,

so you hide yourself away,

clutching your gun in quivering fear

without a sense of shame or even irony

you try to cleanse your dirty souls

in the blood you've shed,

the blood you long to shed

there are so many murderers,

and even more would-be killers,

roaming your streets like crazed lynch mobs,

seeking to murder new Mary Turners

but hey, say the NRA,

we're equal opportunity providers;

we don't discriminate:

black, white, woman, man,

gay, straights, even the mentally ill

are welcome to buy and use a gun

like the guards at Auschwitz

'we are not responsible'

for the blood sweeping across the streets;

guns don't kill anyone, you say

hypocrisy to the nth degree,

wimpishness beyond belief,

frightened of your own shadow,

you cower behind the illusory safety

of your boy's toy, terrified that

the door may open

and you discover

no enemy in sight

except yourself

In the Middle of Nowhere

middle class and middle aged

the middlemen meddle with and muddle

the middlebrow minds

of the middling sort

of middle England and middle America

In Praise of Moderation

to set a fire,
to quench the flame
to admire
the arsonist's ardour
rather than blame
for destruction
cold hatred of life
misanthropic resentment
we are, in traction
between joy and strife,
defenestrated contentment
when we confront
evil's banality
cold indifference
to be blunt,
we prefer finality,
its evasive pretence
(pace idealistic youth)
is complicated,
infinitely variegated
dogmatists deride
those who prefer
to step aside
rather than err
things fall apart,
Yeats said it truly,
but the centre - the heart -
must hold fast against the bully

Making things better

Like healing, the way

Wounds are patched up, even in the home

Necessary improvements made,

Decorative and structural

Scars may never heal, but with dressings,

Lotions, splints, tablets and other paraphernalia

They can be reduced, hidden from view,

Making things better

Many desire instant change, a revolution

In their existence and the world,

Choosing quick fixes, easy answers,

Over the hard graft of gradual reform

Amelioration is like still water

Rather than effervescent fireworks,

Flattering to deceive,

Dwindling to the dampest of squibs

We who slowly choose to ameliorate

The worst of things, are much despised

By those who wish to overturn all that is

And those who strive to see that nothing changes

History on the whole records our triumphs

So let us rejoice when we ameliorate

A little, the hardships of human fate,

The inevitable failure of unrealistic expectations

we must learn to love and trust again

Future dreams:


the blinds yellow with tobacco smoke

as cobwebs twinkle like distant stars

announcing the imminent opening of shutters

the arrival of innumerable anti-biotic resistant diseases

while millions starve so others may diet

tyrants roar while good people stay quiet

and the innocence of children utterly vanished

as they run amok with violence in their heart

a yawning gap within themselves

that only hatred and narcissism fills

and tattoos are no longer beaten on drums

but etched on the living body of putative humans

trying and failing to grow into adulthood

but only a fake posturing simulacrum of maturity

issues from the childlike brains and voices


so it is the year

struggles into a new imitation of birth

and an approaching flight of doves

heralds the imminent onset of war

smoke from coal fires unexpectedly puffing from chimneys

even in apartment blocks

only the loudest explosions are ever heard

and at times not even then

however many tears the willow sheds

however much blood leaks from the flesh of roses

the uneasy acrobats continue to twirl umbrellas

while walking across Niagara

not noticing our skin has turned to iron

our finger-nails to the points of bayonets

our hair to a lightning conductor

our eyes to the faint glimmer of dying street lamps

power out


but no outrage


on the one hand we have those who only measure

on the other hand are those who try (in spite of all the

obstacles - yes, that's right, ma'am, we'd like your support

for a sponsored live-in; are you willing to make a donation

of money, time, your labour, for this worthy cause?)

to smooth away the brutally rough edges of life

into at least a semblance of something human


the graves of the earth have not yet opened

nor the ashes from crematoria reconstituted themselves

but the sea foams with wine

the river pumps beer

and even deciduous trees bear fruit out of season

church bells ring 24/7

virgins give birth daily

slums and ghettos erupt into palaces of splendour

and the world is full of weddings


now the prison gates lie open

the real criminals of the world are hung in chains

in public squares to await the people's justice

now these former tyrants are as frightening as scarecrows

now that everyone understands the emperor's nudity


our tears once shed in sadness now fall

in hot rivulets of metallic joy

for too many years we have perceived

reality upside down

now we will open enough food parcels

for everyone to eat

the hairs of love stand on end in sudden horror

at the unexpected realization

he is now required at last

to perform his healing magic

Hymn of hope for the future:

If we sing to you

does it compensate for the spillage of tears?

is the polite applause of well-meaning folk

a kind of atonement for all that is lost?

the inner and outer landscapes are scarred by frost,

in the faint distance we see rapidly fading smoke,

and even after the passage of so many years

there is nothing we can do

to all the waifs and strays,

the outcasts, the oppressed, the slaves, the slain,

the raped, abused, condemned, discarded lives

does our singing suffice?

in a world where too many hearts have turned to ice,

where dishonesty, hatred, cruelty and evil thrive

can we truly put aside mourning and pain,

turn our sad voices to form songs of praise?

we who sing to you still

out of the proud rags we wear

cry out in words written in blood,

making the music of brittle tears

you who feed on our fears,

who wish only to trample us into the mud,

you whose only care

is for the wealthy, must swallow the bitter pill

when your temples to money stand empty at last,

abandoned shrines to forgotten false gods of old,

all your sacrificial rites no longer fooling

the people whose faces you crushed for unending ages,

then, when history's book turns its next pages,

you, once thinking yourself so serenely ruling

over our bowed necks forever, find all your gold

worthless, base metal, a Barmecide repast

and you, imagining inequality would never end,

and that your boots would stamp endlessly upon our face,

suddenly wake from your dream to discover your vision was cloudy,

you did not see clearly the advancing wave of us, surging

across your cookie-cutter lawns, merging

into a vast, rebellious, rowdy

mass with a single identity - the human race,

the people, no longer willing to pretend

wrong's right, black, brown and white

can't get along like sisters and brothers,

no Roma or gorgers, no Metis, no 'breeds,'

only the thundering footsteps of our manumission

it's not even acts of contrition

we seek from you, only our simple needs,

our unbounded energy smothers

your vain attempts to make us abandon the fight

the rule of the bankers, the lawyers, the bullet, the phallus

is over at last, as we climb to the top

of your ziggurats and skyscrapers,

and you, alarmed at the entrance of reality

into your fantasy kingdom, can be set free

from all your illusions, evaporating like vapours,

do not have to be fresh meat for our butchers' shop,

can give to the people your love instead of the callous

indifference to suffering you have shown,

ingratitude for the services they perform,

resentment of every small forward step they take,

denial of rights however just the demand

come away from Mammon; help us build the new land

with honesty, fairness, compassion, and not the fake

pretence that only through being as wakeful as chloroform

can you hope to silence the sound of every groan,

ringing out throughout thousands of years in pain,

ringing out in our songs of hunger and rage,

the injustice of our permanent suppression,

the endless cycle of self-contempt,

now we stand before you, the unkempt,

demanding your supersession

and our entrance to the table, release from our cage,

and the freedom to live our lives fully again

we who sing to you now

can no longer allow

our backs to be bent to the plough,

the music of our songs to be the sough

of the cold wind abrading our weary brow,

rather, let's take the prow

and sail our dhow

of new hope across the brow

of a new horizon,

singing a joyful orison

to make the mixture gel

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