Winnipeg

Cry me a red, red river
A river of dust and bones
Of hearts that bleed and shiver
From broken and bruising homes

Blow me a kiss of willow
To echo a mourner’s moan
The ache of an empty pillow
Another child’s fate unknown

Cry me a red, red river
To fold me within its bed
And comfort the cares that slither
Through thoughts of unending dread

Bring me a message, finding
Too late what you had to face
My anger a knot, a binding
A coiling of thoughts that race

Cry me a red, red river
Reflecting a distant star
A chorus of souls, a quiver
That calls to me from afar

Paint me a cold moon rising
Surrounded by frozen waste
Still warmed by a hatred, blinding
For victims that leave no space

Cry me a red, red river
From words that no longer mean
An end to the dreams that linger
Its path a forgotten scream

Soothe me to sleep through Winter
To wake in the roar of Spring
With gifts that are carved to splinter
Where birds cannot bear to sing

Cry me a red, red river
And lay there upon this shore
The past where I long to wither
And hold you again, once more

This was written for the Red River Women.

Comparabolic Religion

Under the same Abrahamic rite
Why is it one tribe must shoulder blame
For all the ills our tongues in spite
May mutter, hiss, jibe, joke, proclaim

Can all those bearing guiding star
And shunned as less than fully hale
In truth be held as such they are
Accountable by any scale

From other creeds and careful groups
And once again, ill fated, mean
Cast out as ‘other’…  Story loops
Unfit to mingle, foul, unclean

How are we in point of fact
In any way so different
When we all, with lesser tact
Live and die with base intent

Dogma and self-interest
Returning fellows to their clay
Here with darkness in our breast
We’ll charge along this alleyway

Now ignorance and cruelty
False, Godless words have spat to shine
We in our turn may twist and see
Of those whose creed does not match mine

Our own ideals overturned
With harsh contempt, disowned, decried
And know ourselves as those who earned
The scaffold built when first we lied

And chose to follow to this end
The unrefined, archaic lore
Hanging decisions on the bend
Of what worked once some years before

To weigh as wanting one who had
An equal claim to all the Earth
As we ourselves who in our greed
Conspired to steal more than our worth

Trad Family Values (Trigger Warning for Sexual Assault)

Just lie down and take what is coming to you
You are what you did, so we’ll do what we do
It’s justice in action, reaction that’s true
Too carefree? Consent! That’s a license to screw…

So grab her and hold her, we’ll strip and unfold her
To shame her and mould her until she is colder
And never, forever, will she dare to tether
Her hopes to a world run by men for their pleasure

For women are worthless, a hot mess of curses
Who pepper discourses with breathy remorses
Before we’ve an ear for our sisters or daughters
Let’s hear from a father (who’s worth our resources)

We’ve room for opinion from lowest caste minion
But suffer no slights from a beardless cotillion
Whose lips tell us lies underlined in vermilion
Until our frustration will brook no Brazilian

Aesthetic. Pathetic, we seek an emetic
For things so erotic they threaten ascetic
Erratic, and segregate tastes so prophetic
We hasten to hide how out-dated our ethic,

Our very existence. No matter the million
That march to a man to protest latrocinium;
We lie on our laurels; inviolate vision
Society’s structure investing our mission

For power that lingers for hangers and clingers
On scales that still favour us dissolute whingers
We’d rather waste time and resources on mingers
To hide behind preachers and ponces’ long fingers

As patriarch beams in the light of the dawn
With funds for a future of cultural norm
Where birth heralds gifts for the fortunate pawn
Ignoring the cries of their less favoured spawn

The female, though fated one half of our destiny’s
Much underrated when it comes to progeny
Gains more of Percy, than man’s greater mercy,
Imprudent, heretical, breeds controversy

These creatures that litter the cracks of society
Were cast-off to bear any bare impropriety
Innocence spares them no bolt of anxiety
As toys for affections of gendered variety

And what of the male as he wanders the land
Silver spoon in his mouth, and a viper in hand
Teasing Eve at his leisure, all going as planned
A man for all seasons, the first of the damned

So clothing was tattered and fluids were spattered
By elders and betters, by people who mattered
Unwanted attentions that blistered and battered
Assault is a compliment, you should feel flattered!

Tradition dictates we must buy them by rite
Postponing delight for our own wedding night
But those who are wayward and troublesome might
Be the better for all that you force on them. Right?

By the width of her bosom or breadth of her seat
You can tell what she wants in her life is your heat
Just ignore what may pass for false modesty, cheat:
If she struggles, you’re stronger, why beat a retreat?

What use is a woman that beggars belief?
But an ornament, decorative, for relief
(And it isn’t a rape if you aren’t a thief
Of virginity), so she’ll submit to your brief

And untalented fumbling, your grunting and mumbling
For out after dark, her experience humbling
Is nothing she doesn’t deserve, just a tumbling,
Yes, shame is the answer, to curtail such crumbling

Societal pillars, though riveted girders
Are challenged with change, so before we go further
Afield for our leisure, let’s talk about murder
And those whose encounters may help feed our fervour

But careful, what soft thought may break through this wall –
The footsteps grow louder, the voices still call
For a change to opinions, stacked for a fall
Bring an end to such violence, once and for all

The Reckoning

In these fractions I seek solace
That infarction is no menace
To my own unknown condition
Though my colleague lies on trollies
As they fill her veins with serum
Hoping vasos are dilated
I’m surrounded by the vision
Such careers are overrated
In my secretary’s costume
I must take on further duties
Try to prop up one more rostrum
And ignore last rites for loot. He’s
Working from his home computer
While I ride the bus to nowhere
In the misty morning chatter
That’s conceived to make me go there
How much more am I allotted?
This existence, mere survival
Will I too go out, garotted
By a heart attack unrivalled?
As my logic fails, convince me;
I’ve decisions that are burning
Every inch would rather lynch me
Than continue painful earning.

Although I rarely explain my scribblings, as I prefer to let the reader interpret them at will, this poem, and the one that follows are written in response to a recent event. The woman with whom I share a desk at my day job suffered a heart attack this week. The events on that occasion and which have followed have caused me to question our place in the universe with perhaps more focused ferocity than usual.

Untitled

This is the place we come to die
We secretaries, in our rows
Two frozen stiffs, a living lie
Few care to note, and no one knows.

While patient, we sit out our time
In managing capricious men
Whose fruitless whims, though not malign
Wear lines on brows and fray each hem.

One more may chew on dust this hour
No more to block electric space
In diary; a heart lacks power
To beat a path through empty wastes.

We are not dumb, and yet, we wait
Preparing meeting rooms, hot drinks
Awaiting proof; appreciate
A mind, unheeded, soul that shrinks

And though the autopsy infers
What killed her was nobody’s fault
That one can prove, (except for hers)
With such a sedentary vault

Of memories of closet, desk,
A filing cabinet to store
The means of murder – this slow death
Made up of tedium and chore.

Hiatus

The Ugly Thought Spider
Squats on the ceiling
Above my head
Mocking my efforts
At pest control
Weaving strings of coincidence
Swapping hunger pangs and saliva
For absent-minded insects, the buzz
Of fast food suspended
With sticky strings attached
Out of reach
I cannot swat him
Though the news today was heavy
I endeavour to ignore his whispers
Cleaving to my sanity
As he to lunch

Pedestrian parade

Listen, mister
Honk all you like
Leer and stare
Yell whatever catchy
Obscenities you feel
Are needful
As I cross at
My own pace.
After the eight-legged
Ninja monstrosity I just
Dismembered and
Flushed down the drain
Your four-limbed
Feeble annoyance
Poses no challenge.
So go ahead,
Try me.

Family Tree

I do not know their faces
Nor the shape of their hopes
Smiles or holy days
Though their names are familiar

Their dead branches whisper to me
Cut off long before I grew
To stretch my own limbs skyward
Drinking in the warmth of life

Pollarded by the Shoah
They were dead wood
Judged and executed
Discarded, pulped

Their elder fruits
Dropped, dried,
Repackaged and distributed
To nourish the living

Old shoes, clothes, handbags
Torahs pulped for toilet paper
To wipe the arse of the aggressor
Marching through ancestral Europe

Kicks supplied on demand
At discount rates
An eye for an eyeful
A bullet for a broken bone

Until I stand here
Weary of remembrance
Sighing in the comfort of
Survivor’s guilt

Read Primo Levi and think of
Stage directions for a ‘war’ film
Complain about my own
Petty frustrations

Knowing we can never again
Afford to plead our ignorance
Of the mechanised
Bestiality of man

War Song for Woolwich

Fear of an idea
Almost intangible
Until it bursts
Fully formed from the head

And flowers to fists
Shouting streets full of strangers
That tumble, concluding
The unwritten, read

Reacting, unwitting
To  pub propaganda
More salt in the wound
With each bucket of blood

Until rivalry forms
Lines appear, out of nowhere
Uncrossable gulf
No-man’s-land to divide

We’re in it to win
But we fall and lie broken
And understand nothing
While clutching our pride

Xenophobia

This was written in response to a particularly senseless and unprovoked race-related murder last week. Some details of the crime are available from the BBC here.

Not from ’round here, are you love?
Just got off the boat?
Wotcher lookin’ for – a shove?
Mind yer manners; throat…

Threatened by the local view
That one is all too strange
We keep our heads down, all too few
To meet the challenge named

If we in truth had settled here
Invasion on our mind
No gentle native could but fear
The mercy of my kind

But as I’m only here to live
As parents, siblings, blood and bone
I turn my cheek, try to forgive
What Tiffin-tales I heard at home

The promised land of Empires past
Has proven a mirage
My castles in the air are fast
Dissolving with the Raj