Dieu et mon droit

La marche de l’extrème
Droit-gauche, droit-gauche
Chaque pas frappe le terre
Agaçant l’Europe

En train de convaincre
Les gens de leur peur
À fin de rappeler
À la foule la Terreur

Qu’il saurait ce soir
S’armer, dirigée
Persuader l’armée
De se reveiller

Et cracher par terre
La voie retrouver
Droit-gauche, droit-gauche
Vers le pouvoir du Pays

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Last one standing

When they came by
For a cupful of sugar
Took my old man
And waltzed over the hill

I was still standing
Polishing silver
Gonna be standing
Forever, until…

Next time a caller
I’d hoped would be smaller
Tripped on her doorstep
Got carried away

I was still standing
To see to a Mother
Gonna keep standing
Another long day

One time you told me
That things never mattered
Half the amount I
Pretended to say

I was still standing
Alone with no lover
Not understanding
Which words made you stay

Then they came by
With a warrant for searching
Hoping to find
What I’d hidden away

I was still standing
In need of your comfort
No one to hear me
And nothing to say

Turn from the shadows
If you fear to follow
All those who greet us
And pass on their way

I am still standing
Myself and no other
One day I’ll falter
But never today

Ah, Palmyra

We care more for ancient ruins
And destruction wrought on tombs
By whatever means they may
Than for lives that end today

While the blood and flesh and bone
Leaving everything they own
To escape the latest purge
Travel desert, sea and gorge

Those who voyage only land
On their uppers, close at hand
To the help they sorely need
Yet the politicians plead

Not to have to break their word
To the xenophobic horde
Those whose votes they barely won
From the hardened right, anon

Thus with bottle-necks and fence
We corral and harry hence
Workers that we sure could use
Grateful, welcome, unabused

Skilled and keen to integrate
To prop up our ageing State
In permissive company
Knowing just who let them be

As the fight takes to the skies
And the waves fill up with lies
We would throw away resource
Inconvenient and coarse

With no tally of the cost
Nor of what support is lost
Though our leaders might feel tall
While our borders stand, we fall

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.

Hidden Agenda

Well-versed in deflection
Adept sleight-of-eye
We swallow confection
No hint of a lie

With no information
To pad out the cues
We’re sunk in deflation
That borders abuse

And used to the stories
So rarely explained
We vote for HisTories
And nothing is gained

Consistent imprudence
Of well-feathered nest
Career jurisprudence
You-know-who knows best

We’re damned by inaction
To more of the same
A knee-jerk reaction
And someone to blame

Scotched Stereotypes

What’s your connection with Scotland?
Well it seems that I owe it my birth:
Mum met dad in Dundee.
And they later had me.
Could that be connection enough?

I’m afraid I have never been back there.
Perhaps you were hoping for more
Of a recent connection –
With local inflection?
I’m sorry to seem like a bore.

Though my parents went touring the Highlands
And they both played to Edinburgh crowds;
Spent some time up in Perth
With old friends and much mirth –
Still, I’m not sure it could be allowed.

For I never have eaten a Mars bar
That’s been battered and dunked in a vat.
I don’t fling, or toss cabers;
Quote Burns to the neighbours;
Wear kilts with no undies and that.

So perhaps you cannot call me Scottish;
More a botched-up attempt at a clan.
Though my dreams were conceived there,
I won’t be believed fer
A wee bonnie lassie o’Glen.

Grammatical batticle

Proper nouns are prim and pristine
They belong to long ago
Shackled to conjunctions, listing
What it is we need to know
Factual they take position
‘Pon the Field of Cloth of Gold
Kneel to hear their King’s ambition
Clutching reins, unsheathing sword
Then look upon their enemy
That vaguest General of old
Whose lines and lines of men we see
As nameless, shivering and cold
Exploits edited by victors
Those who fought and those who fell
Posterity’s unnoticed victims
History that none can tell
I tot them up, these dated figures
Sow their sounds deep in my head
In hope they’ll stay there though the rigors:
Algebra and baking bread
Latin may decline declensions
Greek is up against the wall
But even now, some nouns’ intentions
Hold my mind from days at school

Revolution

History tells us
That coups are romantic
Tight breeches and open shirts
Flesh on display

But somehow historians
Seem to gloss over
The blood, guts and gore
Spilled as change rules the day

In marketplace, schoolroom
And under the blankets
The hard-headed, downtrodden
Protesters pray

For those seeking justice
Surrounded by forces
With too much to lose
To just give it away

Love poem to my hands

These small scars and subtle lines
The marks of canula and razor blade
This triangle of raised skin from an
Unlikely first foray at false nails
Tell my story better than palmistry.
Strong hands, cast in my grandfather’s mould
The broad span of a peasant-pianist
Clasping my mother’s work ethic
My grandmother’s curved third joint.
My hands are rebels, weatherbeaten
Eschewing my father’s manicured elegance
With overgrown cuticles, nails kept short.
Functional fingers, well-muscled
And only two permanent ink stains
On the right hand, unmoved since school;
The wart on my left a source of teasing
My witch mark, mocked
By ignorant children.  I would not change
The fine hairs on my fourth knuckle
Hidden by the ring I sometimes wear
For the world.