A poem on National Poetry Day, 6th October 2016

hogarth-cockpit-1759-grangerIf the state of politics
is bringing out your nervous tics –
your leg, your nose, your eye, your face –
if you despair of the human race,
if Brexit leaves you short of breath,
where ‘May’ means ‘must on pain of death’ –
if you despise a shirt of black,
if you fear no one’s got your back,
if you feel meant to feel the shame
when companies are told to name
their employees who may be foreign,
as that’s not kosher any more, and
while we’re at it, if you weren’t
born in Britain, their deterrent
makes you feel unnecessary –
if all you want is some good fairy
to take you back to the days of yore –
say, 22nd June, before
a paltry 2.8 per cent
had ratified the hate you’re meant
to feel’s a kind of ‘Britishness’,
that King-&-Country Eton mess
that says, ‘Our islands! Must defend ’em!
Long live the lies and the referendum!’
And you’re the thing they think’s attacking,
and with no job you fear you’re slacking,
and if your fairy’s nowhere near
(she’s somewhere else with a flea in her ear),
and the end of the Enlightenment
just brings on Fight-or-flightenment –
if what you need’s a bit of human
rights – or income – if the loomin’
North American election
makes you need some warmth, affection,
but there’s none of that these days,
and all your friends are in a craze
for one or other charismatic
loony-tune or old asthmatic
woolly-jumpered demogogue
and common discourse is a fog
of spew and guile, judgemental bile,
and human rights are on the pile
in Britain, Hungary, and Poland,
if  ‘Citizen of the World’ means no land
where you’ll ever feel at home,
even at home – your monthly rent
a sneer of insidious intent –
your neighbours loud, and speaking Yiddish,
their husbands grim, their children skittish,
even more foreign than you – that’s parity
and at least it lends some clarity
of a kind, you kind of guess,
though not much comfort. But I digress.
You walk the half-deserted streets
and mutter, as the past retreats
and no one ever speaks to you
and find that something filters through
the ether – yes, that might be it.
You’ve having some kind of little fit.
It goes with the twitches, it will pass
on the other side of the looking-glass
if only you can get back there.
Rapunzel, please let down your hair!
O take me into your ivory tower, 
where experts flourish and ideas flower
and one may think whate’er one thinks,
while the world burns down and Britain sinks
into a mire of its own slurry.
I need a story, I’m in a hurry,
you want to cry. But there’s no story.
There’s no Rapunzel, there’s no fairy.
There’s nothing but Theresa May
And Donald Trump, and anyway
The future’s coming. You can’t hide.
You can’t just try to stay inside.
If all of this, and more, is true
remember that it’s up to you
to grasp the stick and save the world,
with ego parked and mind unfurled,
to make your story, teach, andwrite –
to draw, observe, and give a fright
to those from whom would heaven forfend –
defend our international local,
be bloody loud, be bloody vocal!
You be the fairy. Make, give, mend.
Happy Poetry Day, my friend.

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