The Anti-Social Conscience

Fear of flying
In the Erica Jong sense
Is not wrong – even for hardcore feminists
We are all intimidated sometimes
When faced with the prospect
Of successful seduction
In an post-AIDS era.

Fear of flying
Bugs with the power to infect
The next generation with long-term consequences
Is a logical response to a natural phenomenon
So we avoid the tropics, where possible
And wear trousers, long-sleeves
And poisoned perfume.

Fear of flying
To exotic climes
With local customs
Hostile to strangers
Would appear an acceptable
Response to the xenophobic
Fury of others – so unlike our own.

Fear of flying
Seems perfectly reasonable –
A socially acceptable phobia for a reduced carbon footprint
Unless, of course the sufferer happens to be
The passenger in the next seat (adjacent to me)
Quaking in their Birkenstocks,
Passing gas, and sweating cobs.

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Giraffe

What kind of world
Will you inhabit
Once we are gone?
Will it be one
Of your own choosing?
New landscapes built
To youthful specifications,
A virtual world, or
Precarious solidity shaped
From the concentration
Of old-fashioned
Children’s toys – perhaps even
Those blue-and-red-stained
Wooden blocks
Of my infancy?
Will our groaning,
Grown-up legacy
Of piecemeal policies,
Poor housing, health,
And knee-jerk reactions
To old threats,
Half-remembered
Leave you with
Too little freedom
And too much responsibility?
However our teachings
Soak into your bones
It will be your turn
To roll the dice
And seek advancement
Or oblivion.
I hope we leave you
Prepared
And with sufficient
Tools to survive
What is
And what is yet
To come.

Flounce, Fluff and Flattery

There is a world of difference
Between those who seek the
Company of women
To bask in it
Hanging on their every thought
As one transported
By the beauty
Of a strange and fantastical mind
And those who fancy
A quick in-and-out
Ego-boost before
Zipping their feelings,
Upping sticks and moving on
To the next conquest.

The difference is obvious
Even to the most casual observer:
One is the stuff of
Fantasy and freedom
Of late-night talks
And deep discussions
Long philosophising over
Personal projections
Maybe with a bit of
Barefoot dancing
And a casual pinch of laughter
Thrown in for good measure.

On encountering the other,
I will take the lonely
High road to nowhere
Hiking in stupid, pretty,
Too-tight shoes
Risking my own skin
To preserve sanity
Rather than share transportation,
Food or drink
In exchange for temporary
Flat-footed flattery
With bondage-grade
Strings attached.

I enjoy womanisers
Who enjoy women
In all their complexity,
But have no time
For bed-notch chasing
Egotists with
Straw for brains
And cloth for ears.

Hedgehog

I once moved country
With a sleeping bag
A dictionary
Two dresses
A blue t-shirt
One pair of jeans
And a change of underwear
To live in a nine foot
Square box with no
Toilet or fridge
I cooked ravioli
In the tin over
A five euro
Electric kettle
And washed both
Food and clothing
In the bidet
Entertaining friends
One at a time
As I acquired
A single mug
With no handle
Singing songs
With strangers
Who were also
Far from home
So do not dare
To presume
That I will permit
Myself to acknowledge
The inconvenience
Of personal growth
There are other things
Upon this Earth
That chafe

Human Rights

Rectitude and moral maze
Seem like to meet their end of days
In hands of saint whose might has ways
Of punishing our own delays

While failure to address unknowns
Has sold what titles to our moans
Could yet be called mere gifts or loans
With careful words we’ll leave these zones

Ally ourselves to no more men
And disbelieve reports of when
The road to peace was better ken
Of others’ culture, sword and pen

The velvet curtain will hold fast
And legislation will bow past
Poor sight-impaired judicial mast
Whose figure seems to fade, aghast

As scales are stripped of balanced view
No counterpoint, but reference, new
Established as alternate to
Our older values, now too few

To understand the loss we face
Try to supplant a lesser place
And see the bold, inhuman race
Condemn all pity, justice, grace

Awakening at last, too late
The image of our fellows’ fate
With little thought and careless hate
We’ll watch our own asphyxiate.

Survivor

I am right there
Surrounded by cockroaches
Squatting in the ruins,
The wreckage.
Collateral, damaged
In the fallout
Of a truly
Decadent society
That looked up to its
Graven images,
Photoshopped.
Idols, now idle.
How they glittered
In their lame, sequinned
Lifestyles.
Just me – a bunch of
Bad habits
And under the rubble,
One drug-addled
Rock guitarist.
Perhaps if we put our
Heads together
We can try
To find words
To remember.

DElectable

If I were one, not two or three
I wouldn’t care what you thought of me
I’d have the choice to change, to be
The person inside, outside. Free.

But there is you, and her and him
And cool, and chic, and fair and slim
I don’t know where I should begin
To twist myself to meet each whim

Opinions hover overhead
What might she think? What would be said?
You couldn’t tell what’s in my head
I gathered thoughts, but lost the thread…

They’re moulding me to something new
To shine in every interview
And sell my soul – in shades of blue
With hints at things that could be true.

Inactivism

The ones who showed up
(Nothing better to do)
Who responded – what luck!
This dispassionate few

Lacking courage; conviction;
Lose energy fast
As they gawk at the faction
All hurrying past

This embarrassing spectacle;
Lacklustre, bored;
Ensuring their protest
Is safely ignored…

What happened to fervour
And faith in a cause?
Results of endeavour
Wrought change, not just snores

You want anyone
To accept your world view?
Then there’s work to be done
And it’s all up to you

Not a person will heed
Any nonsense you spout
If you, hasty to lead
Fail to plan for the bout

So don’t wing it on camera
Prepare with a script
Ere the freedom to clamour
Is hastily stripped

Once your message is seen
To be patently dull
You’ll have blown it on screen
For the others as well

The Trade

Where is this freedom
Promised me
When first they told me
Work makes free?

I look around
And know I’m lost –
What’s free I buy
At such a cost

No youth, enjoyment
Holidays
Solid employment
Only pays

In minted coin
As all are robbed
Of our free time
We’re bobbed and jobbed

And pensioned off
Freely to freeze
As Winter brings us
To our knees

A lifetime spent
In servitude
While taking care
To save on food

Essentials only
Frugal thrift
Is hardly free
To those who drift

Through twilit streets
And shopping malls
In suits and boots
Or overalls

No longer knowing
Why they strive
For Freedom finds
Few left alive

Autumnal

I dislike moths
Such old, dusty
Sepia butterflies
That flap at my face
Crash my cupboards
Caught in a protracted pause
Betwixt the seasons
Munching on jumpers
Waving beetle-brows
Beaten from carpets and comfort
Like absent pupils
Silt-minds wandering
To sunny fields
And freedom from
All manner of sticky-
Beaked rules