Politics

Breaking News

We interrupt this poem to bring you reports
of an explosion

of wild untruths and other signs that the news
is broken.

Early indications from those who were first
on the scene

have led to widespread fears of another Sweden
or Bowling Green

and that peace might erupt at any moment
in other places.

It is believed that amongst the rubble of reality
were found traces

of humanity and an understanding that stretches
beyond borders.

Many experts predict this will lead to a new wave
of presidential orders

for such trumped-up charges form part of
a familiar pattern.

But back to the poem: we’ll bring you more news
as it doesn’t happen.

On Escaping from Nature

The birds are at it again,
arguing about Brexit
from their branches;

the smug song of a starling,
the crows’ cry
of blue murder,

and the inexpert chatter
of a so-called chaffinch.
Across the street,

a dog cocks its leg
against a lamppost
in protest against

the chronic neglect
of the National Health Service.
A leaf lies ignored

on the pavement
it slept on last night,
and dreams of home.

Further out,
in surrounding fields,
cows hold seminars

on the refugee crisis
and the pigs debate
what to do about Syria.

Goats stare bleakly
from desolate crags,
remembering Trump.

Soon it will be time
for the penguins to march
against global warming.

I do what I can
to keep nature at bay,
drown it out

with radio or TV,
find refuge
in the tranquillity of Twitter.

But it’s late now
and outside
I can hear the owls

calling parliament
into session
once more.

As I Grow Old I Will March Not Shuffle

As I grow old
I will not shuffle to the beat
of self-interest
and make that slow retreat
​​​to the right.

I will be a septuagenarian insurrectionist
marching with the kids. I shall sing
‘La Marseillaise’, whilst brandishing
homemade placards that proclaim
‘DOWN WITH THIS SORT OF THING’.

I will be an octogenarian obstructionist,
and build unscalable barricades
from bottles of flat lemonade,
tartan blankets and chicken wire.
I will hurl prejudice upon the brazier’s fire.

I will be a nonagenarian nonconformist,
armed with a ballpoint pen
and a hand that shakes with rage not age
at politicians’ latest crimes,
in strongly-worded letters to The Times.

I will be a centenarian centurion
and allow injustice no admittance.
I will stage longstanding sit-ins.
My mobility scooter and I
will move for no-one.

And when I die
I will be the scattered ashes
that attach themselves to the lashes
and blind the eyes
of racists and fascists.

Pigs

Truth had it coming, if you ask me.
All those drab facts,
that dull insistence upon
looking at things as they really are,

shoulder-barging
the stories we would like to hear
out of the way like that.
It’s a surprise it lasted so long.

Far better now
that we can wrap ourselves
in untruth, and emote our way
through the days.

I like to tell one untruth
before breakfast,
then three more by lunch,
with a further seven by bedtime.

No, I never said that.
Yes, I did declare all my income.
Yes, I know exactly how you feel.
No, I did not eat the biscuits that were in the tin.

And should any so-called ‘expert’
point at the crumbs
which nestle in the corners of my mouth,
my bottom lip shall tremble,

and I shall say, pity me –
for, since my neighbour moved in,
these crumbs represent
all I have left in the world.

Every night I hear him
sneaking into my home
and helping himself
to another handful of biscuits.

And I shall say these words
with such passion
and such conviction,
over and over and over,

until the pigs
begin to sing in the trees,
and my untruth
becomes a kind of truth itself.

They left

to spend more time with their families
which was bad news
for their families,
who had to put up
with their daft daydreams
and scatter-brained schemes
at home

occasionally,
they’d suggest an outing
to some relic
coated in dust,
or a tea shop
at a National Trust,
only to lose interest
before they’d even left
the house

they had no idea
how to get there –
no map or Satnav
in case they got lost,
no idea of what it might cost,
no food or water,
no suncream or macs

someone else
could take care of all that

WMD

We found them in the end,
those Weapons of Mass Deception.

Turns out
that the Weak Motives for Destruction

were here all along,
not concealed in the backs of Iraqi trucks,

but buried deep
in a Whitehall Manipulation of Documents,

in a dossier entitled
“Wilful Misinformation and Distortion”

to serve the needs
of certain Well-known Ministers of Distinction.

Behind the scenes, out of sight,
Westminster Manoeuvres in the Dark;

disarming how long it has taken
for this to be brought to light.