Saturday, 6 November 2010


Part I

This is real.

I saw people collecting
in town
for the Poppy Appeal.

I thought to myself:
'I don't support the occupation
of Afghanistan -
more blood
leads to more blood;
dead sheepherders
and children
just trying to eat
their flatbreads;

you know the Taliban
are the children of America,
the Mujahideen the bastard children
of Carter and Reagan,
and their weapons
have stars and stripes
splattered on them.

'Am I cruel?'
I thought.
Think of the cripples;
no more nipples
to touch;
below the knee.

'They're victims,'
I thought.
'Victims of the state,
sent to die
so rich profiteers can live.'
And if veterans
are treated well,
more soldiers will go.
And if more soldiers go,
then the blood of the state

and we have
even more driven
Poppy Appeals
fields of veterans,
writhing in
ignored torment.

'I can't do it,'
I thought;
I don't care about WW2 veterans;
all the WW1 ones
are now dead.
But Radiohead are doing the single.
O! Sweet Thom Yorke!
With his blistered fingers
and his eyes
searching for morality,

I can't do it.
I won't make more pain.
We all ignore pain.
The government NEEDS pain;
FEEDS off it!

Am I heartless?
My heart
is a poppy,
and my convictions
are its petals.

Part II

There's so much blood;
so much violence -
I go to bed
these guns
pointed at myself:
I gave
the Mujahideen in my soul
the armaments,
and now
all things point west.

And the irony of it all
is that we're killing ourselves:
the longer we stay,
the more they roar;
the faster we leave,
the less they relent;
the more we kill;
the more they resist.

It was never our war!
These were never our wars!
My arms weren't meant for blood!
They were meant
for babies,
and wife,
and softness,
and fountain pens.

I've inherited my father's blushes
and his father's before him;
we all blush at the violence
about which we can do nothing.
Tonight, in the rushes,
I look out upon
of scattered brown,
everywhere to be found

like lost bodies,
millions of miles away
from green verdancy -
aliens of the landscape.
I wish they would come home.
I wish we could all go home!
I wish, I wish, I wish....

I wish we could
our home. 

Part III 

Right, men;
right, soldiers;
onwards march
to the
invincible invisible:
you know
you will inherit glory,
so what's to fear?

As they marched into
the guns
and mustard gas,
they thought of home:
no more wife;
no more children.
Some of theirs
were expecting -
infants left 
to the wind.

Forget about them.
For Queen and country 
could never be capitalised).

They trudged through
boggy abyss
and found
lead walls;
they marched
through holes
in their souls
and came out 
the other side muddy.

When will we be home?
Where is Rule Britannia?
Where is mother's oats?
Where is father's pipe?
Why are we here?
What's the answer
to this crossword puzzle?
Did Blackadder
get it so right?

put your hopes behind you
and your lives in front of you;
forget what you want:
we must kill the Jerries!
And in our killing take thrill,
'til our bodies like peat lay
for the yards of yesterday.

this is beyond you or me:
this is imperial war,
God's concrete,
in which we are to be frozen -
the alive are the chosen;
such an inhuman number of all
British men
will die;
the women will raise
babies from the grave
and ashes into life.

Care not for liberation
or escape from death damnation,
or the whims of the state:
you are not the subjugated
herd that you feel;
we let you pluck at peel
and thumb at false ends.
You'll die for dividend
of your English throne,
and all the greenery you've known,
and all the Devonshire grass
on which you once lay like earthen task.

The stars you will not see;
nor God's country.
You pious boys of old:
on country you were sold;
on honour did you lapse
into death's collapse;
on fate's knee were you nursed
like baby of the hearse.
I hope you find your way;
I hope that you escape
from country
I hope you meet release. 

Part IV 

No more pain;
no more pain. 
I cannot permit
any more pain.

My veins are swollen;
my eyes are glazed;
my hands are enamoured; 
my memory hazed.

I cannot choke on this
any more;
it is not to be swallowed,
the earth will deal
with this
in its own time.

I will not tolerate
any more blood,
any more pain; 
shop windows aflame
with this flood
of dying game.

Eyes of grey
look to the sky
like Cain to slain Abel
or the crow to the cry;
they see no more,
but they seem like cast souls:
they gaze to the heavens
to glean reason, mould.

I wish they were here
to impart
their jovial warnings
of military art
and the seductive wing
of country's blame,
and international admiring
of endless war games:

the war to end all wars
was merely the first
to start all the others;
not to quench the thirst
of blood-hungry despots
dressed up as sheep,
whom, devoid of emotion,
profess to weep.

These speeches mean nothing; 
these gestures are trite:
they're like tree
talking to tree
of a night.
They sound off in silence
and echo in null;
they clink like the hollow
resonance of skull.

One day, you will find
yourself on the perch
'twixt life and death,
and the life-arching search;
you will answer the questions
they give
in vain
and you will fold at the asking
of your name:

'my name is reliance,'
say ye;
'I am here for to be
what you need me to be'.
But don't let yourself be casked
in that barrel of death;
all that they ask
is devoid,
and will devoid you,
of breath.

And now, 
as you look towards the setting Sun,
you see poor soldiers on the run;
they run into
their lines of fire,
not knowing why death they desire;
and those who live
are doomed to spend
life eternal
with thought to rend:
these poor victims of deathly fate
are none but victims of the state,
and of the time,
and of the crime
of unknowing misfortune's rhyme;
their fates in red, white, blue, heart
to not abate
iron fist's art.


  1. i LOve THE last two stanzas before the end of IV

    you got some strong views then Rob about wa? lol
    All joking aside I see the desperation in the way you have written it, and you have cited some lovely comparisons...

    it is heavy - i don't write anything about the politics of war of which i know i am not apart but I share a similar belief

    is this the usual content for your poetry?

    James x

  2. No, it's not, lol. I wrote it as a protest of wearing a poppy; it's intended as a statement, or merely to be controversial. Whilst I feel the pain of soldiers - past and present - I am a pacifist, and I will not allow myself to be wooed by teary displays of nationalism disguised as something noble. That's why I ask in the poem whether the character (i.e. me) is cruel. One has to stick to one's principles, or else lose them in the wind of indifference.