Where were you when Kennedy was shot?

Was it hope that died

when rifle shots blasted the promise of youth,

silenced the dreams of perfection?

The radio crackled, the valves flickered.

Heroes were reduced to the banalities of grief

and the leaden prose of eulogy.

 

Now these phantoms ride

in a bubble, thinking strengthened glass proof

against the drunken stupor of destruction.

Cushioned in posts and tweets, the absurd

washes away the vernix of infantile belief

to leave only power as our cold theology.

 

The journey from saviour to villain

remains a short road, well signposted

and heavily trod, a blood stained highway,

a monument to misconceived hopefulness.

 

So these bitter reflections are scattered

across my world’s shrinking horizons.

They are transient litter. They may scar

the view from my window but I am too far

from the place where the earth still breathes

and hope hops from step-stone to step-stone

in the froth of the raging waters.

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The BBC investigates the housing shortage

 

On the one hand

they are self serving

profiteers, careless

of the needs of the mute,

banking the land

in their back pockets.

 

On the other hand

they are pettifogging

bureaucrats, eager

to subject enterprise

to regulation,

gloating over power.

 

So there you are then.

 

Back to the studio.

The Call of the Age

 

Are we past the age of lamentation?

Bemoaning the lost heroic beauty,

the fields of barley turned industrial;

farting full in the face of injustice

we breathed the poisoned air in helplessness.

Whilst faith has dressed in terror’s uniform

we turned the refugees back to neglect,

clutching our safe little world to our breasts.

The waste land has wallowed in disorder

for too long; we can no longer pretend;

scholarly elegance has had its day,

innocence has been wiped from our foreheads,

we have learned the full measure of evil.

So the time for beauty and truth is now,

to fight with tenderness and a soft heart.

God is Dead

It was when he came to the stream,

the soft breeze of the water flowed

over his face and washed away

years of thoughtless obedience.

 

Suddenly the birds were singing,

had they waited for him to leave

the quiet courtyards of convention

where he’d bent his back to labour?

 

Beyond the stream, the horizon

stretched – a universe of unknowns –

and the knowns of his slavery

stood at his back, humming gently.

 

He waited, not knowing which path

would connect him, and to what end.

So there in the growing shadow

he sang cruel songs of oppression.

Freedom

 

And so he came to the stream

whose cool breath played on his hair,

kissed his eyes and washed away

the blindness of obedience.

 

The birds were singing for him,

heartfelt in their ignorance,

untouched by memory’s scars

and careless of the future.

 

Past the stream, the horizon

displayed its endless unknowns

and its gape sent him sprawling,

blinded, alone, diminished.

 

So he grieved for the tyrant,

songs of oppression no more

sustained him and the sun shone

pitilessly on the clouds.

Danger’s days of comfort

Danger once loitered in dark alleys,

behind the rifle’s rear sight,

or in the wolf’s bared fangs.

It gorged itself on the flesh

of the careless and reckless.

It haunted the dreams of the guilty,

throwing them down chasms,

striking their soft necks

with the scorpion’s sting.

Danger’s venom was vigorous,

and was on first name terms until

the powerful seized it by the arms

and took it to banquets of death.

Then, in its comfort, Danger

could rest content. Now, it lies

secure, in the plastic seas,

the melting ice, the smoking

ruin of forests and the stark

indifference of wealth.

New Year Sonnet

The year ends in the cold sludge of Winter.

Shapeliness hides, triple wrapped against wind,

save for the wiry scowl of the jogger.

This is no time to be alone, watching

sands drift through your fingers. The year is gone,

to be simplified by history’s lies.

Let it be gone and take a stranger’s hand.

Truth is weightless but courses through your veins

before the mind can grip it in knowing.

Throw your laughter to the air and watch it

float away; dance over the churning seas

and sing your anthems to whatever comes.

For love must embrace the grim thirst for blood,

outstare the evil and repay bad with good.