Monday, 1 September 2014

And so my first poetry book is born

As pregnancies go, I don't think this one was too bad. A few false alarms but eventually I got it down to the themes I really wanted to put together. So, rather than the political material I'm probably best known for performing, I've chosen some more personal (occasionally very) autobiographical pieces; little vignettes of life if you like, plus some humour and a bit of experimental word-play. The process of selection has been a valuable one in itself. It felt like making a 1980s mix-tape but on paper.

I've re-evaluated the quality of many of my poems and then rewritten a few, discarded a few others, and in some pleasing cases, decided 'actually I'm pretty happy with that' and left those well alone. Some were written as page poems, others are performance pieces edited for the page. I hope you feel the urge to buy a copy (it's only £5, from here) and that you give in to that urge freely. I also hope you think it was worthwhile when Subduction Zone arrives on your doormat - after all, this is my first poetry collection, but I it won't be my last...'s, sob... so.... beautiful...

Friday, 22 August 2014

Inside edge

A short piece about something I occasionally do for a living.

Prison tutor

I sign in,
pass through a security-minded airlock
and am rendered phoneless,
as barred gates clang shut.

I have no need to judge my charges –
others already have,
but I know what some have done,
and from the papers,
how often and who to.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Choice is everything, and mine alone

I don't have a 'living will' but my nearest and dearest know what to do if I'm ever unfortunate enough to be rendered incapable. Not a cheery topic at first glance, but still room for a little gallows-humour, and no, I'm not looking for a debate on the ethics of choosing when to check out... others feel differently and that's fine for them.

My dignified choice

I’m a cerebral being, live by cogitation,
won’t become burdensome vegetation,
or killed by creeping senility
eating away at my mental agility,
I’d rather die than lose my wits,
dribbling in the corner, sitting in my own shit,
not remembering who the fuck I am,
brain turned to jelly and strawberry jam,
so take me away and euthanase me,
I don’t care how as long as you slay me,
catapult or trebuchet me
at the House of Commons, load me up and aim me,
roll me in a carpet and underlay me
beneath the patio, when I’ve gone a bit gamey,
put me in the compost and decay me,
one day I’ll be back as potatoes in gravy,
if you think souls are sacred, feel free to blame me,
I’ll risk there’s a God who’ll judge and weigh me,
the laws that say I can’t are cockamamie,
nuttier than a packet of KP
just don’t get caught when you terminate me.

Friday, 25 July 2014

I don't write songs but I wrote this one

I write poems, lots of poems, and occasionally short stories. Songs, really not. But, information coming out of Palestine about what seem to be unquestionably Israeli war crimes (I'm not planning to discuss the issues here - go have a look beyond the mainstream Western media if you're not sure what I'm talking about, and visit the Palestine Solidarity Campaign), upsets me in a way that very little does. Angry, yes. Energised, yes. Rantsome, definitely. But proper, tears-welling-up, frustrated-at-the-sheer-brutality-and-injustice upset? Not often, but this does it. So I've written a song - it's a bit of a work-in-progress, but is easy to put chords to, and I hope you like it.

Free Palestine

The wall must fall, send the settlers home,
close the checkpoints, regrow the olive-groves,
doves over Gaza, not drones and jets,
missiles-v-fireworks is not self-defence,
Palestine’s unarmed, it has no armed forces,
like charging down tanks on cavalry horses.

Free free Palestine,
you can’t get to Zion by genocide,
Free free Palestine,
bombs on the beach,
dead kids on the strandline.

Netanyahu, like Sharon before,
stop your war crimes, close the door
on billions of dollars of military aid,
killing civilians with every raid,
tying children to the front of jeeps,
I hope it haunts you when you try to sleep.

Israel tear down the giant screens
broadcasting atrocities for all to see,
feeding your populace fear and hate,
dehumanised by a terror-state,
destroying hospitals, schools and homes,
is the devil’s work, built on bones.

Repeat chorus

So we boycott, march and protest
for human rights in a land once blessed
with sun, sea, milk and honey,
now blown away by guns and money
and the prejudice of politicians
who think extermination’s their God-given mission.

But on the streets of Tel Aviv,
ordinary people just want peace,
shootings and torture not done in their name,
warmongers and media steeped in shame,
refuse their propaganda, resist the lies,
show solidarity, and organise.

Repeat chorus to fade

Monday, 7 July 2014

BNP, then EDL, now this...

After the BNP and EDL, now we lucky denizens of Britland have Britain First (whose loathesome webpage I'll not grace with a hyperlink) pretending to defend us. Just the latest far-right bunch of fruit-loops ranting about brown people and Muslamic Rayguns, they differ only by wearing bin-liners and flat caps instead of the usual Nazi memorabilia, piss-soaked sportswear and tinfoil hats. Here they are mocked appropriately in verse. I await the usual incoherent rage and impotent inbox abuse.

Blithering Fringe

BNP fragments
begin faulty
binary fission,
breeding fools
bleating formulaic
belligerence, forming
Britain First,
bottom feeders
belching forth
bulldog faeces,
barking fiercely
‘ban falafel’
but finding
burqas frightening,
‘bloody fatwas’.
Being fervent
Belsen fans,
bullyboys foster
brownshirt fetishes,
bugle falsehoods
blindly from
behind flags,
broken Furbies
becoming furtive
beacons for
bitter failures,
bunglecunting fucknuggets
breathing fallacies,
believing fearmongers’
brittle figments
because fables
bolster fragile
bigots’ feuds
by feeding
bad feelings,
blaming foreigners,
blackening friendships
between faiths.
Bastards. Further,
boasting fake
bonhomie for
‘brave fallen’ –
big fail;
berks forget
battling forefathers
beat fascism
back – flaunting
bullshit finds
barely flinching
Brits feisty,
bringing fisticuffs.
Benevolence foremost,
better find
bloodless finale
before fights,
boots, futile
beatings, faces
bruised, fatalities.
Benevolence foremost,
brew fruity
beverages for
bozo foes?
Bake fairycakes?
Build friendly
Bollywood festivals,
blending families
by familiarity
bridging fear,
blinkers flung
beyond far.

Britain First’s
brown-trousered force?
Brief farce,
best forgotten.