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

REM Regrets

It’s the end of the world as we know it
And I’m feeling nothing is fine
Since slipping down stairs on the slime of your tears
As we stumble toward one more crime

With our pulses and tempers increasing
‘Til the drumbeats are all we can hear
With the pounding of chests just a signal at best
For there’s plenty out there now to fear

Do we dare raise an eyebrow to challenge?
Would majority views still prevail?
Those whose protesting shocks in the ballot boom box
Were a message: Society? Fail!

Is there hope for our woeful tomorrows?
Can we ever recover the cost?
Now we’re set on a course to an ending of force
May we mourn what it is that we’ve lost?

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

A Race

Fleet of foot, we rose up on new legs
And crawled from the ocean,
Found caves by the shore more secure,
But ambitious, precocious, we wanted more.

Overtaking the bones of dinosaurs
Forging weapons of our bodies
We set out to outsmart competition
Surpass them with strength and speed.

It was not easy. Some fell early
To malnutrition; attrition rate high,
But we were stubborn, focused;
Too intent on growth to die.

Hurdled germs on our own terms
Through the darker ages, lettered pages
To illuminate and illustrate
Our superior ways, our mind, our fate.

When prayer for days fell out of fashion,
Revolution wrought new passion
Choosing sides and burning towns:
Spoils to victors, death to clowns.

Bloodied our hands in War and Peace
With the drawing of borders and global police
Such inventive solutions to building new homes
That we thought we were Gods, not flesh and bones.

And now we have entered a digital age
We find new forms of life engaged
In fights for supremacy, violent rage
Evolved to the glare of a flickering page.

But we haven’t forgotten our primitive roots
For one, in anger, aims and shoots
To rid this world of other tribes
Ensuring only “ours” survives.

Mandela’s Mandala

My grandmother spoke of a great man
Whose skin colour was a secondary concern
To the taste of his ideas, his morals on her lips
Hands on hips in her folded apron, she showed me
The power of strong rhetoric, tropical thinking
My grandfather chopped wood and remained silent
Unwilling to share his politics with those so young
I watched him split logs with one swing of an ancient axe
Shirt off in the pale, English Sunday weather
I watched my grandmother from my perch on the pondokkie
Swinging my legs as she peeled the potatoes
Split her open and the rings would show no colour
But the shape of her beloved country, through each
Cell of her deep-tanned, well cared for, white skin
A difficult woman, she held her beliefs with vicious tenacity
Preferred to attack what she viewed as injustice
With a verbal barrage that would put Sergeant Majors to shame
She laid bright flowers in an eggcup on the windowsill
In the hope of his freedom and a speedy return
To the country of her birth, her much praised Africa
Whose yellow skies and long heat warmed her
Even across the forty years of chilly English countryside
The dust of an old dirt road clung to her feet
Rising with her sense of South African pride
The day they released his book, she bought ten copies in hardback
This lifelong huntress of bargains for once profligate
Spilling coins without waiting for the price to come down
She gave them to her friends, those chilly, trophy wives
Who nodded their thanks through their layers of paint
But whose plastered on smiles did not reach their powdered eyes
Her own copy was placed on the coffee table, strategically
Next to the woven bowl of blackened bananas – fully ripe
The only way my grandfather would eat them
His eyes skimmed the man’s face each time he reached for
A handful of soft, sweet, wizened fruit
She wore him down, political peace by piece
Until her discussions were moved from the kitchen to the parlour
With all the adults involved while the children lay on the rug
Completing the two Christmas jigsaws of Africa and South America
With camels and elephants slotting into place next to the date palm
Once the borders had taken shape and the cape jutted out
Before finding the pieces of cactus with its sombrero and poncho
Under the corner of the cake plate
And then, when I was still a child, Mandela was free
She showed me the pictures, sat at the kitchen counter
While fish fingers fried in the pan and the calico cat
Stalked the sizzling butter with determined paws
She turned to turn my page and a finger was out of the pan
Onto the floor with the cat jumping after it
That was the first time I did not hear her scolding
Scalded paws scurried away with their prize
As she pointed out the man I had been told would save
My grandmother’s beloved South Africa from itself

Taking a back seat

Racist grannies on the bus
Tut and stare – it’s them v. us
Martin Luther was their King
But did his words mean anything?

Instead of peace from A to B
Oneupmanship is all they see
A trade in slaves they scowl and claim
No other story merits blame

How then may one girl best explain
Two thousand years of Jewish pain?
Our ancestors have suffered too
But my pale face meets hostile view

No white devil yet understands
The misery of foreign lands
Of being torn from all you know
And sold for servitude, although

If we had time enough to show
So many tales of mankind’s woe
Are written, spoken, danced and sung
To exorcise this bitter crumb

As painful history lays bare
How little pity all do spare
For those they see as lesser folk
The truth is plain, a racist joke

The Zebra Hides

What is wrong with us
Yes, with you and me
That we see the truth
But still let things be

What was in our mind
When we let one walk
Were we colour blind
Or too scared to talk

PC does not mean
Truth and justice lie
Skin may set the scene
But no alibi

It cannot be rote
Race must not judge race
So a juror’s vote
Hangs on shades of face

And the system creaks
Swinging in the breeze
As new rotten sneaks
Climb down from the trees

These albino fears
Creep into our gut
Just as closure nears
And the case seems shut

Men are painted black
(It’s a point of view)
And we risk attack
For the things we do

Must all verdicts wait
For the blind to see
Justice lays in state
Slain by fool’s mercy

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

An Homage to Harvey

My conscience did prick as I sat here awhile
About some certain things that have made this girl smile.
I’m not too P.C., I can laugh with the best
But a slight has a cost, even when a mere jest.
So be wary, my love, as you open to speak
Of the deeds of an Imam and Rabbi last week
For ’tis better to laugh with the head and the heart
Than to poke fun at others – your comments do smart!
A quick wit is all very well, but take heed:
A slow tongue’s more pleasant, in word as in deed.

Crusading poetry

I make my peace with what you cry
‘Swear now ’tis true or else you die!’
I thought such sooths as men might say
Died out long ere my yesterday…
But yet I hear on radio
And internet, and tv-show
A million screams ‘forswear your lore’
Or all with turn as was before,
Crusades will come, and burning too,
And witch hunts over ‘what is true!’
And battle cry of not-yet-men
‘Our God’s the stronger, bow to them!’