Saturday, 7 November 2009

A BIT OF POLITICS & RELIGION [a collection of 14 poems]

i) The Pen and the Politician
ii) I Simply Adore Blacks!
iii) The Search For, and Sale of, Belief
iv) 'ists and 'isms
v) The Acting Politician For...

vi) The Gated Community
vii) Businessman
viii) God of War
viiii) Christ Returned to England at Christmas
x) Biscuit-Tin England
xi) No Prayer
xii) A Muslim Inquisition
xiii) Newton's God and the Mechanical World

i) The Pen and the Politician

With the pen’s deathblow, he dispatched a man (who broke a rule) to a world without pens.

That pen was brave, fearless in fact, at its distance from the victims’ stench and the crying screams, and the screaming cries, of those far from the file’s innocence.
They are out there - the people. They are in the concrete world.

The pen, a puppeteer’s string, gives birth to an order of words on which they hang. The innocence of inscriptions!
But at the end of each day, it goes home to the pocket’s comfort.

ii) I Simply Adore Blacks!

Take the paradigm case of Family Brown.
The parents are top civil servants.
They gave birth to two lovely children.
As students, the young Browns moved to the best inner cities;
To be near the exotics they’d heard about.
They knew well that blacks lived there.
Later, they became the most zealous anti-racists their Uni had ever known.
Believe me, that’s an achievement!

It’s true; they simply adore blacks.
Think them cool. Wicked. Think they’ve got soul.
Think that souls are black… not white.
Even believe the myth - or the woman does - that black men are good lovers.
They simply adore reggae too.
Think the sleaze of R ‘n’ B best.
Its endless melisma; so soul.
Its soft-porn sexiness; so hip.
Think rap’s machismo; not real machismo. Not like what white folk practice.
Masculinity seen as the essence of black culture.
And believe that Baptists know how to party;
Unlike the Christians who’d raised them: they were so unhip!

History lesson.
What of the 19th century Browns?
Loyal (civil) servants again – but of the British Empire.
The very same empire our students hate with a perfect hate.
They lived deep in India – the India our own students think spiritual.
But the Browns moved smoothly from their hatred of coloureds to their love of blacks.
A volt-face in three generations.
The piety of the Victorian Browns – now mirrored by the student Browns;
But duly altered to mirror the mood of our own times.

iii) The Search For, and Sale of, Belief

The Belief-Searcher:

Marx? Blair? Christ?.. Anyone!
Please show me the True Way.
Rest my mind’s ceaseless wanderings.
Please bind my searching, fruitless thoughts.
Show me the answers to those whats, wheres and whys.
Utopia? The Free Market? Heaven? A utopian free market in Heaven?

The Belief-Seller:

You there! Come taste the Truth – these truths!
Wake up from your spiritual adolescence.
Come try these kindly dogmas for size.
I’ve got a tight-fitting materialism;

A silky Free Market;
A woolly or essential faith – try both for size.
I’ve got endless Hope and assured Fulfillment - again, at bargain prices!
Come on! Uniqueness is but a small price to pay for all-inclusive belief.
With freedom comes seclusion and frustration.
With belief comes common care and fulfillment;

And that much-sought divine satiety.

iv) 'ists and 'isms

He is an ’ist and his ’ism is his prison.
It fits the world (the all that’s in it) like the tight iron glove that it is.
There’s no room for love (in an alley way or a church instead).
Or the sweet complex bit of every issue at hand.
And there’s no place left for ifs, buts, maybes.
With whys too he’s bereft.

His ’ism’s precise, exact, guaranteed, in fact,
To answer all the queries, qualms,
That don’t stay long in his mind.
They are not balms for his tight iron self (in its tight iron glove)
That’s bereft of love.
That must go forth in stealth to an oh-so-easy death.

He is an ’ist, and his ’ism is his prison.

v) The Acting Politician For…

Who is this PR puppet?
See his sham seriousness!
See his feigned anger!
He has a mask for each occasion.
See his physiognomy of sympathy and contortions of rage.

His speeches? Syntheses of great historic exemplars:
a physical gesture here; a painful cliché there.
This actor performs his lines well.
Recalls the right movements to make; at the most opportune moments.
He makes skilful use of silence; and the silence of the House.

He believed double-breasted suits added that element of the New Man and the delicate touch of the swanky guy of New Political Business.
Why live off camera?

Look at him! There in the Commons.
The prime-mover and top-notch statesman in this sixth-form debate.
He quenches the lust of the raincoats who like their politics straight and rough.
He roughly chews the flesh off another contentious bone.
Then throws the leftovers to an audience of
rapt and unfailingly convinced political nerds.
The acting MP stands, statesmanlike, on his podium stage,
to offer satisfaction, as always, to all the politicos
with that strong need for a more potent political fix - the straight and hard he delivers without lines… and so well!

This politician now as contrived and affected
as he is when both off and on the end of the House’s lenses.
Yes; the camera now lives, in perpetuity, within Commons’ walls.
And amongst the MPs who can’t quite pull-off the Statesman bit, or even the New Kind often talked about:
Both archetypes of the ever-changing scene that makes up the stage they’ve always performed on.
The two types are both adeptly played by this acting MP.
And played, too, with a style that matches well the core of dead and great personas.
He has (under)studied the dead statesmen and built his own kind: both radical and traditional.
He is a politician for all seasons.
He has a taste for every proclivity when wearing his real politic masks.

Sometimes, not many, he betrays himself by the set of his face.
But other times his spanking persona works far too well.
It is the means to bring to fruition, at some not-distant future, the huge ambitions of his eat-all, un-satiated ego…
But no! Till now, testosterone has only simmered, not boiled, in his balls and brain.
It will boil when he gets more of the same.
More but better of the same political stuff.

vi) The Gated Community

Please don’t let the world invade our rented space.
It’s hell out there, though we cannot see it.
We make our own world here.
A private universe, in which we love and create.

The doors are shut tight once all are safe inside the virtual village.
Self-interest is limitless within, now God is dead to their self-subsistent world.
High-tech made all this possible.
But the world outside still bangs on the gate.
Let me in! it cries.
Outsiders smell the better life inside.

The community long since turned its back on the world.
On its poverty, crime, and murder.
But most of all, on its insecurity - though they watch it on TV.
The desire for security is powerful.
Its realisation fed the desires of the decent people
who saw tyrants as the guarantors of stability in their fractured worlds.

Can their fortress hold?
Things are getting worse on the outside.
Outside is the hell of their safe inside.
They hear the traffic’s mayhem and the screaming sirens.
CCTVs are the eyes of God.
They detect each dirty outsider who tries to enter their better life.
Inside, homes are safehouses within a safe-community.
Each room is safe-room separated from each family member.
Inside each safe-home, the TV eyes watch its citizens cook, shit, and all the rest.
The doors sag under security’s weight.
And guard dogs are bored of the little that happens there.
Their ears are erect to the noises outside
Which are heard from the sharp distinction of the quiet inaction.

Soon the insiders will grow bored of their secure, bland days.
They lost their souls to security’s tempting.
Community Spirit never had a chance.
It died at birth.
Without it, each inhabitant became the enemy of each inhabitant.
Paranoia began to eat its own tail.

So the rot will set in more.
These people can’t escape from themselves.
They are victims two times over: of their own safe-world, and the unsafe outside.
The disintegration will happen.
And though they can escape the others safe outside, they can’t escape their own other.
Not much further into a decaying future, their world will metamorphoses into the world outside…
It will become a microcosm of that macrocosm.
The tacit wavering is hidden from all who live within the security and comfort.
This community had paranoia growing since its birth.

So who’ll be the first rebel?

vii) Business Man

In close harmony, his cock rose and fell as his shares rose and fell.
Money made his world go round.
Made him quiver in sheer delight.
Gorgeous, pouting money.
Fast cars, Claret circa… whatever, a house on the slopes of the Pyrenees, and a prize-wife.

Yes, yes, give me more. Give me it all.
I could eat the world. Consume it whole. It’s mine!

He worked a 25-hour day.
Used and abused each hour with machismo pride:
Okay John. Take £50, 000 from Kuwaiti Oil and put it into McDonnell-Douglas. Okay?

Take his Sao Paulo office.
Outside, street children eat his high-life waste. His gorgeous, pouting waste.
On the office walls, financial agendas and Market charts hang symbolically over a symbolic self.
Outside un-symbolic children are still hungry:
Business is business. If I didn’t do this, someone else would.

His conscience? Long-since gone.
Its last stand went up with a puff of Cuban.
His scruples were crucified on the Calvary of the Market and those often-sung realities:
It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. You’ve got to take what you can.
No fucker will give it to you…

Don’t talk to me about ‘conscience’, boy.
My father had a conscience. It killed him.
His dust-filled lungs were its gift to him.
Conscience killed him, mate! Did you here me?…
So I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps.
I educated myself at the School of Hard Knocks.
And today, well here I am. And I’m fucking well-off. And well-chuffed about it!

After the Sermon on the Market, he looked into the office-mirror.
Pulled out a well-off cock and wanked, like a maniac, over the reflected man.
A man who grinned straight back at him and was pleased with what he saw.

viii) God of War

And the Lord gave the Israelites the holy city of Jericho.
But only after its inhabitants had tasted the holy sword.

Krishna spoke softly to Arjuna.
Told him that death did not exist.
So Arjuna went straight ahead to fight on Truth's side.

At first Arjuna wan't convinced that Truth was on his side.
He found himself amid warring sides.
This was Arjuna's dilemma: To fight or to fall silent?
The dilemma soon dissolved in Krishna's soothing words:
You cannot truly kill.
Nor will you truly die.

Allah spoke to Mohammed.
Told him to fight for the Holy Cause.
Mecca was just the beginning.

Mohammed's iron will controlled his iron soul.
He would only conquer those infidels already destined for hell's fires.
He simply brought hell nearer.

Each time, God was on the winning side.

From Crusader to suicide bomber,
God's name was always on their lips.
Those who need the strongest ally
Will always call on God's help.
God has been, and always will be, the best available weapon.

viiii) Christ Returned to England at Christmas

His mind full of all the good things he could do,
The good Lord returned to Christmas England.
(Wasn't he once seen on our green and pleasant land?)
It was a snowy night
And the bright lights were gushing and glaring Christmas spirit.
'Really, you didn't needn't have bothered,' thought Christ.
Though he well knew the mickey-mouse routine
Was celebration less for his low birth
More for the other holy stuff in the high-street.
Still, he indulged himself (just a little).

Chrirst first went for a bite at a burger bar.
With those lovely long locks, greased and tied back,
He sat down on a sticky plastic chair
And, through designer shades, eyed the adverts
From the Better Life of a Beefy Dream.

Outside, he skipped down the neon-templed high-street.
Covetting leather through windows.
Dreaming that Better Life of the Beefy Dream
While all along the stars on the wires shone loud
Begging him to stop and buy his Way to Joy.
This was the starriest of starry nights.

On Christ's journey through the tinseled heaven
Two beggars tried to catch his heedless joy.
He leaned over them, offered them the Hand of Peace,
And, with the other hand, quickly swiped their hard-day's takings.

Well away, Christ counted his blessings.
And thanked his Father for not forsaking him.

x) Biscuit-Tin England

Summer. (Always.)
Birds in the blue sky.
Smooth verdant greens.
Cricket. (Sun, whites.)
Quaint old cottages. (Ivy covered with gardens of odorous flowers.)
4 o’clock tea. (Sherry and cake. Old ladies with white hair running the Wordsworth Society.)
Church with tower. (Yews in the graveyard. ‘Green and Pleasant Land’ sung with pride.)
Post office.(Red pillar box. ‘Starving Africa Appeal’.)
Wesley’s Hall. (World War Two remembrance.)
Vicar on his bike. (‘Doing his rounds.')
‘Cheerio William! Have a nice day.’ (Hopkinton-Snell.)
Mary’s flower arranging class starts soon.
‘Harold’s marrying Emma. Have you heard?’ (‘Friends from school.')

‘Put that fucking biscuit tin away Darrel!’

xi) No Prayer

Oh Lord! You never heard our prayers.
Never showed us the way.
Must we bow down like sycophants?
Recite unctuous words to soothe Your ego?

How vain You must feel, Lord, while hearing a billion voices call Your name.
Putting their faith in Your power to save and to redeem.
You must think we are fools to believe there is a worse hell than our own.
Can Your hell match the Hell of the 20th Century?
A century in which millions murdered millions.
In which mad men blew themselves up with Your name on their lips.

Your name, Lord, think of those who have died in Your name.
Think of the millions who have died for You.
Are you satisfied yet?
Do You want the body-count to rise yet more?
Do You want yet more proof of obedience and loyalty?
When will Your hunger for sacrifice end?

Think of the million little hells You have allowed through Your long reign.
Think of the pain.
Think of the countless acts of torture You have witnessed.
Think of the dead and the dying.
The old and the ill.
The decrepit and diseased.
And then ask for praise.

Lord, if You do exist, I still shall not worship You.
I shall not prostrate myself at Your feet.
Or sing You words of praise.
You are not my saviour.
You have not saved me.

God, what a fucker you are to leave millions to drown yet again.
Where is Your benevolence?
Where are Your consoling words?

Lord, You are the ultimate voyeur.
From me, there shall be no prayer.

xii) A Muslim Inquisition

He questioned me in a way I’d never been questioned before.
Questions fired by certainties.
He knew what was Right and what was True.
His head sniffed well my moral failings.
It was his job, he thought, as a proselytiser for the One True Religion,
To make sure I knew what I should believe and what I should do.
To him, there could be no real debate.
All he wanted was to implant the Truths of his chosen religion – the One True Faith.
Such truths could never be questioned.
Only stated in their purest form.

When I rejected the Truth, I was simply wrong.
There was nothing else I could be, but wrong.
More than that, to reject such sacred truths was to betray culpability
That in other societies, or at other times, would simply not have been tolerated.
Such unbelievers would have tasted the Sword of Truth.

He couldn’t even grasp my contra-points.
Let alone accept them.
The possibility of an alternative was a possibility he could not accept or allow.
His truths were of the purest white.
My untruths were black as sin itself.
No in-between greys were admitted by a mind that couldn’t grasp the world’s complexity.
(Or the complexities of the un-leashed mind.)
Such greyness would have extinguished the fire in his belly-soul.
And stopped him from being the pious man he thought he was.
Life’s complexity would have halted him on his journey
To the Paradise that promised him so, so much.
Which made all his good deeds worthwhile.
Allah demanded this rejection and denial of life’s complexities.
Allah wanted a pure, rigid relation to the truths He’d given him.
If Allah himself cannot abide copouts or fudgings,
Then how could my man, a mere servant of Allah,
Arrogantly accept them?

He knew that my answers would be wrong – whatever form they took.
He knew this before they were uttered.
The conversation, if that’s what it was, was only a pretext
For the exposition and then the imposition of his own pure truth.
He thought my answers would simply betray their own turpitude.
They were false and they were wrong.
His iron exactitudes, buried beneath his questions,
Would show me the Truth and the Way instead.

I knew all along, by the fire in his eyes, it was his hard faith
Which fuelled his every question.
Which urged him on.
I was but one more lost soul to save.
One more to put on the Right Path.
One more to save from himself.
To rescue me from the sordid life I simply must have lived.

He was the Word and the he was the Truth –
Even if a paler reflection of the Prophet’s purer Word and purer Truth.
Through him the Sacred Book spoke.
Therefore the voice of Allah spoke to him.
I was chalkboard on which he wrote truths which could never be substituted
With egregious alternatives.

xiii) Newton’s God and the Mechanical World

All the world’s a mechanism.
Did Newton really think that?
He did; but the huge mechanism was wound up by God.
Since that time, God has relaxed (though He’s not lazy).
Every now and again He spectates the world.
Sees what man’s doing. And what he’s done.
Now and again, He offers a little sign, here and there,
To tell all He’s still around.
For even if the laws, which govern the world,
Were made by God’s creative hand,
He’s still left the mechanism to itself
For us beings to grasp or perplex.
Others, of course, want more from God.
They want God at every street corner.
A God who listens to each banal and selfish prayer.
A God who’s real job is to pamper our bodies and minds
During each pathetic predicament.
And keep us sure in the knowledge that He hasn’t forgotten us.
That God has our best interests at heart at all times.
He watches the dull routines and cowardly exterminations
Which keep man, or so some think, only a few rungs beneath Him.

And the language of the world isn’t mathematics.
How could it be?
To express and explicate the world, in it fullness and entirety,
We would need a duplicate.
Only that would do the job.
But what would be the point of that?
All else, the theorems of physics, the laws of geometry,
And the factual statements which philosophers condescendingly accept –
Are but symbolic appendages to the world.
Signs to point us to its many faces.
To give the world sense.
All that’s more than rock, muck and mineral.
A symbolic world that is not symbolic.
A world graspable to minds not only cognitively playful,
But needful of that fix which injects the world with meaning.

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