Archive for the ‘war’ Category

Fascism

September 26, 2017

A heavy word. Not one to be tossed easily,
Grenade-like into polite conversation.
A threat, a lie, a swindle to
Set us against each other.

But tyrants are mortal.
You cannot set in stone,
When wind erodes,
Time crumbles to dust.

National pride wrapped in bundles of sticks.
Together we are strong, individuals can be broken.
In basements, under spotlights, in gas chambers.

The Roman salute, Hail Caesar!
Mussolini stole such
Patriotic guff. Clothed his men in uniform
To inspire fear, to stand aside from
Crowds of unbelievers.

For fascism to take hold
It first has to rid itself
Of opposition. Crush resistance
From those who conspire and
Dream of freedom, democracy.
Label others with stigmata.

Hitler failed at art.
If only his school teachers
Praised his scribblings,
Galleries showed his work,
His ego may not have found
Such an outlet.

He was also a thief.
Cloaked distasteful ideas, at first,
In talk of socialism,
Freedom from wage tyranny.
But hate and terror prevailed,
The world blazed in agony.

Together, humanity defeated such ideas:
Or so we may talk ourselves into believing,
Sitting here, discussing politics and struggle.
Yet still there are people

Who swallow lies of superiority,
Deceit of supremacy.
Visions, of returning to
Non-existent golden era.

Rome taught them the art of carving up
Ruling supreme. Keep tribes squabbling
With petty concerns,
Or if revolt threatened,
Throw their chieftain a juicy bone.

Corruption still gnaws at our society.
But there is human solidarity,
Kindness, and comradeship,
Which, if it stands firm,
Can overcome racism and division.

When we realise that we are all just
Part of a fragile, blue bauble in space.

 

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Adrift

October 29, 2016

They came – a few hundred, not thousands as claimed
Fleeing fear and persecution – they should not be blamed.
Desperate people, not a swarm, horde or flood
The same as you and me, made of flesh and blood.

Ils sont arrivés – quelques centaines, ce n’est son pas des milliers  selon
Qui fuyaient la peur et la persécution – ils ne devraient pas être blâmés
Des gens désespérés pas un essaim, une horde, ou une inondation
La même chose que vous et moi, de chair et de sang.

The Express and Daily Mail bleat unsparing, vile attacks
Some people sadly taken in by lies of right-wing hacks.
You might think World War III was on its way
If you read the tabloid press – so we need to sway

 «Aujourd’hui en France>> avec des attaques viles, impitoyables
Malheureusement certains croisent les mensonges de la droite.
Vous pourriez penser que la troisième guerre mondiale était sur son chemin
Si vous lisez la presse tabloïd donc nous aurons besoin de tangeur

the balance back – fight for the oppressed and the poor.
Unify against bosses, politicians who waged war
which created refugees; dispossessed, homeless –
It was not poor people who got us into this mess.

lutter pour les opprimés et les pauvres.
S’unifier contre les boss, les politiciens qui font la guerre
Qui a créé des réfugiés; dépossédés, sans-abri:
Ce ne fut pas de pauvres gens qui nous ont mis dans ce pétrin.

Immigrants were not responsible for the financial crisis
While bankers rake in billions, the media divides us.
We need solidarity, not racism against fictitious “angry mobs”
Who are no threat in reality, just want the chance to get jobs.

Les migrants ne sont pas responsables de la crise financière
Alors que les banquiers râtissent des milliards, les médias nous divisent.
Solidarité, contre le racisme fictif «des foules en colère»
Qui sont pas une menace en réalité , ils veulent une chance de trouver un emploi.

But they cannot work, just get by on an Azure card
Not welcome in certain places. Bureaucracy gone mad.
The system treats the asylum seeker like a criminal
No independence, singled out – the message is subliminal.

Mais ils ne peuvent pas travailler, juste obtenir une carte Azure
Seulement accepté dans certains magasins. Bureaucratie devenue folle.
Le système traite le demandeur d’asile comme un criminel
Pas d’indépendance, persecuté – le message est subliminal.

And the police respond with Operation Stack
COBRA is convened: we are under attack.
The refugee is dehumanised, feared by all and sundry
But millionaires are fêted, when they come to the country.

Et les flics réagissent avec l’Opération Stack
Le comité d’urgence est convoqué: nous sommes sous la menace.
Le réfugié est déshumanisé, craint par toute l’humanité
Mais les millionnaires sont acclamés, quand ils viennent au pays.

45 minutes

July 9, 2016

45 minutes to sex up the dossier,
45 minutes to polish the lie.
45 minutes of cowardice and calumny,
45 minutes, pressed suit and red tie.

2 million marched through Trafalgar Square,
2 million sought refuge from ruined Iraq.
2 million ignored, corruption laid bare,
2 million hopes crushed, prepare for attack.

Zero the weapons of mass destruction,
Zero nuclear warheads, anthrax or napalm.
Zero reasons, zero justification,
Zero warnings of depleted uranium.

Thousands of campaign dollars from Exxon, persuasive
Thousands to white-wash the blackness of death.
Thousands of sound-bites, slick and evasive
Thousands of half-truths that lie on your breath.

One special relationship had to be kept,
One bond with George Bush that held you in thrall.
One soldier Tom Keys, whose family wept,
One aim for the war, to secure yet more oil.

How Saxby Street Got Its Name

September 28, 2015

Some poetic responses for the Everybody’s Reading Festival, to the eponymous book by Penny Walker, which discusses the impact of World War One on my local community of Highfields, Leicester.

What’s In A Name?

Place names – windows onto the past
From a distance of a century,
Ordinary folk from Highfields
Caught up in conflict
With other ordinary people.
We even shared the same words:
Mecklenburg, Mickleover, Micheldever
Mony a pickle maks a mickle.
Inflamed by propaganda,
Outraged at living with a Germanic street name
Indignant complaints made to the council.
At a stroke of a bureaucratic pencil
Hanover – Andover; Saxe Coburg – Saxby
As in Groby, Blaby, Barkby, Ratby
Reminders of the time when the Danelaw ruled
And Erik Bloodaxe was feared like the Hun.
Immigration is nothing new,
We all have something fresh to bring.
Today, Leicester celebrates Divali, Eid and Vaisakhi
The Empire which stoked war is but a memory
We live together as a community.

The motto of Leicester is Semper Eadem which translates as “Always the Same”. The children of Medway Primary School staged a short play, looking at the similarities and differences between 1915 and 2015.

Always The Same

Leicester stood out
In the rush to sign on
We remained aloof,
Independent.
Recognised the war for
The racket it was.
It was easy to get a job
Though hours were long
Hosiery was thriving.
We sang to rhythms
Of the factory.
No need to risk our lives
For a few bob.

Penny’s book dealt with memories from the First World War recorded in the local Oral History Archive. Since this was compiled starting from the early eighties, few people were alive who could remember the events from their adulthood. Many of the contributions were about childhood experiences of wartime.

Memories

Children played in the street
Hopscotch, top and whip, battledore and shuttlecock.
Our rhymes danced high and clear –
One potato, two potato, three potato, four!
Much better than school – crammed sixty to a class.
Lives were more fragile;
No doctors for the likes of us.
The NHS was a figment of Bevan’s imagination
To be cradled by a future war.
We couldn’t afford such luxury.
We swam through the jitties and the alleys
Fireflies amidst pollution’s pall.
Innocents in the battle
Which engulfed the world.

little red little green

If you have enjoyed my poetry on this blog, my new collection, “Little Green Poetry” is now available from Lulu – – £4+P&P (paperback) or £2.50 (for e-book readers)

You can still order copies of my first collection, “Little Red Poetry” from http://www.leftbooks.co.uk or http://www.lulu.com – again for £4 (pb) or £2.50 (as a pdf for e-readers).

I hope you enjoy reading my poems, and, as always, all proceeds will go to help build the fightback against corporate political parties, to build a voice for the millions, not the millionaires.

To find out more about my politics, visit the website of the Committee For A Workers’ International, which is engaged in struggle in around 50 countries worldwide.

Colour Blind

July 19, 2015

Mandela’s long road started with a single step.
Mao’s Long March, a mountain retreat.
Long list of conflicts, longer list of casualties
Long columns of troops, longer columns of newsprint

It’s a long, long way to Tipperary.
Long history of imperialism
Long time to think – to realise
We’ve come a long, long way together.
Long time coming, struggle so hard.

Long struggle for recognition;
For too long we have been betrayed.
A long fight to break this glass ceiling,
The long roll call of the dead.

We will not be free until we are colour blind.
Until we treat others as we treat ourselves.
Whether you believe or not, or which god you follow,
Whether you are gay, or straight, or bi.
It doesn’t matter where you come from.

We are all one –
On this long road
To equality, to freedom.
little red little green

If you have enjoyed my poetry on this blog, my new collection, “Little Green Poetry” is now available from Lulu – – £4+P&P (paperback) or £2.50 (for e-book readers)

You can still order copies of my first collection, “Little Red Poetry” from http://www.leftbooks.co.uk or http://www.lulu.com – again for £4 (pb) or £2.50 (as a pdf for e-readers).

I hope you enjoy reading my poems, and, as always, all proceeds will go to help build the fightback against corporate political parties, to build a voice for the millions, not the millionaires.

To find out more about my politics, visit the website of the Committee For A Workers’ International, which is engaged in struggle in around 50 countries worldwide.

In Absentia

August 26, 2014

I wasn’t there.

I can only guess,

Foundering in the mud

The gulf between sides dug in

A chasm of generations.

You were unable to give tongue,

Horrors left unsaid.

 

We weren’t there.

How can such voices span the gap of time?

Unamplified, analogue – signal is too faint,

Drowned out in digital dazzle,

The stampede of politicians,

Hypocrites all too eager to clamber

On bandwagons of false patriotism.

 

They weren’t there,

As realisation sunk in

War-tired, weary

Drenched by the same rain,

Battered by the same cold winds,

Existing on the same meagre rations.

Conscripts lusting after glory and honour;

The realisation – pawns

In someone else’s power game.

Eyeless in Gaza

July 29, 2014

Three ways of looking at a blackbird

 

Why did Blackbird, with beak and talon,

Eyes aglow with weltering anger,

Forged in furnace,

Come screeching and tearing,

Crying bloody vengeance,

Against innocent Earthworms?

 

Because . . .

 

Why do Blackbirds, with drinks and popcorn,

Eyes agog with excitement and tension,

Roll up, roll up, come bring the family,

Perched on deckchairs,

Revel in righteous carnage

Of innocent Earthworms?

 

Because . . .

 

Why do Blackbirds, with banners and placards,

Eyes brimming with tears at wanton destruction,

Comrades come rally,

Against injustice,

Senseless slaughter,

Poor innocent Earthworms?

 

Because . . .

 

Earthworm lay . . .

Bruised and battered,

Concussed and shattered,

Amidst ruins of what once was home.

She had no answers.

Portrait of a survivor

April 8, 2014

Joystick brings target into view;

Violent game of life and death.

Balanced in cloudless sky of blue,

Distant concerns of kin and kith.

 

Remote, the drone receives command,

Pulse of bytes, irrelevant noise.

A far-off war, a remote land.

Men will play with expensive toys.

 

Human emotions don’t apply,

All empathy, conditioned out.

Soldiers are ordered to comply,

Drones must carry orders out.

 

Mission control will know the score.

Ours is not to question why,

Query what drones are fighting for,

Just direct objects in the sky.

 

Human face imposed on a field,

Basic pattern recognition.

Can it stop the impulse to wield

Weapons, stop blind causation?

 

Give back humanity and life,

End this video-game of death.

 

Image

Image source – http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/04/06/artists-install-massive-poster-of-childs-face-in-pakistan-field-to-shame-drone-operators/#.U0HpmWJMrSI.facebook


You can read some more of my poetry in ‘Little Red Poetry’. All proceeds go to build a new party for ordinary people, against cuts and privatisation. Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Copies are also available from Left Books

Water and oil do not mix

March 4, 2014

Seed,

Life-giver.

Slaker of thirst.

Clear, fresh spring.

Without you, we are nothing.

On tap. A right for all humanity.

Not a packaged commodity

Bottled and marketed,

Stock to be floated,

Sold out

Down

The

River

Of Oil,

Black gold.

Harbinger of doom.

We can ill-afford our chemical

Romance. We cannot stomach toxic

Petrochemical soup, polluting aquifers.

Heating our homes, but heating the planet.

We must get control over our addiction,

Take our power from the sun, not

Wage wars over pipelines.

We need to take

Control.

————————————————————————————
You can read some more of my poetry in ‘Little Red Poetry’. All proceeds go to build a new party for ordinary people, against cuts and privatisation. Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Copies are also available from Left Books

The BNP sink to a new low

April 15, 2010

Two days ago, Hope Not Hate used the image and words of Normandy Tank veteran Kenneth Riley to encourage people to combat the danger of the far right, by voting against them wherever possible.

Dear Friend,

When I enlisted in the army 66 years ago, I did it for Britain.

Now I need you to do something for me.

The BNP is trying to strangle our great nation with the same extremist and fascist agenda that Hitler’s Nazis threatened us with decades ago. Today, the war isn’t being fought on the battlefield – but in the ballot box.

Hope Not Hate is on the front lines of our fight. They’re organising to make sure modern-day Nazis aren’t elected on 6 May and to preserve the Britain for which I fought so hard. If I had my health I would be out there with them. But I can’t – so I’m writing to ask you to volunteer for me.

Please join Hope Not Hate’s Day of Action this weekend – the campaign has laid on transport to help you get to the areas in which you are needed the most:

http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/fightthenazis
I was barely in my twenties when I went to fight for Britain. I left home with friends – all young lads like myself – and many never returned.

Today, the BNP salute and say “Heil Hitler” – and they support the same all-white Britain. They’re proud of what the Nazis did to my friends, and what they did to millions of innocent people throughout Europe.

We didn’t fight with our lives on the line years ago just to be right back here today.

We need to do everything we can to stop the BNP from being elected to local councils and to Parliament. Those boys lost to the war would proudly go door-to-door with Hope Not Hate to fight against the fascist BNP today.

There are no tanks and no guns in this fight – but we still need your courage to speak out.

Attend a Hope Not Hate event this weekend and join the fight against fascism:

http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/fightthenazis
The elections on 6 May are personal to me – and I hope they will be to you. I’d like to thank you in advance for your service.

Yours,

Kenneth Riley
Normandy Veteran – Tank Division

Amazingly, the BNP stole his words and used them in their own twisted version of his appeal:

Dear Fellow Patriot,

When I enlisted in the army in 1942, aged 18, I did it for Britain.

Now I need you to do something for me.

The old-gang parties and their fellow cohorts in the media are dismantling and destroying the Britain we fought so hard to defend and preserve. Today, the war isn’t being fought on the battlefield — but in the ballot box.

The British National Party is on the front lines of our fight. Our party and our courageous activists are working around the clock to save the country that our war heroes fought and died for. If I had my health I would be out there with them. But I can’t — so I’m writing to ask you to volunteer for me.

I was 18 when I went to fight for Britain. At just 20 years old I was involved in the Normandy invasion, and spent the last year of the war fighting with my fellow heroes through northern France, Belgium and into Germany.

I was attached to the 51st Highland Division under the command of the legendary General Bernard Montgomery (‘Monty’ as he was affectionately known). I also took part in the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944 and Operation Market Garden.

Today, look at the terrible state of our country! Many cities and towns resemble third-world slums; crime is out of control; pensioners are freezing to death in winter; we are ruled by the EU; our politicians are greedy and corrupt, and our British national identity is being dismantled and abolished!

We didn’t fight with our lives on the line years ago just to be right back here today. Our war heroes have been betrayed!

We need to do everything we can to help the BNP get elected to local councils and to Parliament. Those heroes lost to the war would proudly go door-to-door with the British National Party to fight against the destruction of our beloved Britain.

There are no tanks and no guns in this fight — but we still need your courage to propel the British National Party to its goals. Get active: leafleting, canvassing, speaking to people; get the word out!

Could you spare £20 towards our election campaign? £20 is not much, but it could be crucial to the BNP’s chances of winning:

If you are not a member, then don’t you think now is the time to join? We veterans fought for this country; now it’s your turn:

The elections on 6 May are personal to me — and I hope they will be to you. I’d like to thank you in advance for your service.

Yours sincerely,

Bob Head

Normandy Veteran

51st Highland Division

One thing which makes this unlikely is his surname “Head” which is common in Norfolk and Berkshire, but very uncommon in Scotland (he claims to have been with the 51st Highlanders Division). Also, search as you might on Normandy Veteran websites, there seems to be no mention of a “Bob Head”. Furthermore, the 51st Highlanders were stationed at Arnhem during the Normandy campaign (thanks to 1 million united’s blog for pointing this out).

I hope that this will backfire on the far right and that people will begin to see through their lies.

So how can we best fight against the lies and propaganda of the far-right BNP?

I think we need to support a new workers’ party – people have had enough of all three main parties and are looking for an alternative. A genuine alternative for ordinary workers is standing in 42 constituencies across the country – vote TUSC (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition). If they are not standing, then vote for any left candidate that is. In any case, it is important that we use our votes against the lies and racism of the BNP.