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OCTOBER POEMThe dark is rising, but it always hasBeen an upstart, just becauseThat’s what darkness does.We have the horizon to focus on,That way the high BeaufortWon’t render us sick, again.Grip your ice pick, prepareTo wrestle on the ice. FittestSurvive, the rest get locked downIn the sinking feeling part of town.Shoulder your Winchester,We all require level action now,Now that lever-repeating gunsAre everywhere. Smell the cindersBlocking the daily air. Winter arrivesLike the apologetic ticket collectorWho knows you don’t carry one,Will have to nudge you off the train.Let’s face it, you’ll hold on,Somehow, tethered to the caboose,With a leather noose. RevealYour shining scalpels, doctorsOf the new strange constraints,Begin to cut and tear at what’s wrong;It’s never light, and the money’s gone,But there’s more of us than them,And we can sort of hum Shelley’s songs.Strap those masques on, Anarchies!
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Assuming, for the moment, that Trump loses the election, and we get a Brexit trade deal with the EU before 2021, Trump will still be in the White House until January 20th; and, according to an Oxford vaccine expert, a plausible vaccine won't be readily available until July; at which point, it may only be 50% efficacious (and 50% say they won't take it). Assuming war will rage in one or more regions in the Caucasus, that there will be winter flooding, and storms; and another million or so jobless by Christmas - well, even without Covid-19 deaths, it is a lot to take in.Now factor this in - the PM, Boris Johnson, who was always openly supportive of 'following the science' has been accused by his own government scientific advisors (SAGE) and Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition Leader, Sir Starmer, just yesterday, of 'ignoring the science' by failing to implement a 'circuit breaker' - shorthand for a two-week TOTAL LOCKDOWN. A mini-nuke, as it were. A paper …


British Museums have been facing a 'tough time' lately, as their mandate seems to have shifted, suddenly, from representing an official idea of the British past, to a new perspective, far more aware of the minuses, as well as the plusses, of BRITISH HISTORY.British history is especially controversial, because at one time, Britain was an Empire. This means that, unlike most nations in human history, at one point it extended its power and control - its reach and dominance, around the world. Neither France or Germany ever established such an enriching, powerful or long-lasting empire, though they tried; and it ranks with the Roman Empire as the most influential, in terms of it economic, social, political, military, linguistic and cultural reach. Clearly, when a nation's past includes a moment of world dominance, pride can accrue, especially as that moment passes.As David Olusoga OBE and other historians have begun to show, however, you don't manage to control large swathe…

Hard choice

The government, and our whole UK society, is facing a terrible Hobson's choice... we can't REALLY let tens of thousands of people die without proper NHS support in the next few months, as the Covid19 numbers soar in our cities, can we? Yet, if we put in place the measures that NEED to be taken, from a purely moral, compassionate and medical perspective - circuit breakers, and lockdowns - the economy will collapse into a great depression, or worse, and millions will be unemployed, many homeless, and in despair - because we do not have the money to support the NHS and furlough everyone and keep all businesses and professions afloat... or do we? Well, there's Trident, and the royal lands and properties... and art and literary treasures. The UK's value is priceless, it could borrow whatever it takes (remember those words?). So, in a sense, the hesitation is not logical, or practical, but scrupulous to an extreme... it is, as they say, hedging a bet... or rather, the govern…


FOR PIERRE LAPORTEMurdered 50 years agoWriting, what does it do for you?And in another official language,Whose form is power, or its display,Or the way that power ebbs, or flows.I knew you, back when you were less
Than murdered, or more than a wayTo mention terror. Poets have taughtThat what we say can go low, or higher,Slow down the subtleties of horror,Or defer or defray the impacts.
Tact and tension, inches of pressure.It was in October, and I was four.A father, you played on your front lawnWith your family, throwing a ballAround in the early autumn air.
Leaves were goldening; the great riverWas only feet or metres away; bucolicIs not quite correct, but closer than a lie.Fiction says I was there; the actuality isI was nearby, with my own father,
At our own play; but the same avenue,Putney (their house on the higher corner)On the South Shore. This took placeIn varying languages, French for the ministerOf the government, Anglo-talk for me
And my dad, Tom. They took him that day.When he wa…


This UK National Poetry Day I'd like to celebrate one of the 'unsung heroes' of UK poetry - a poet and poetry promoter who has done so much for so many. Long before 'diversity' became a catch-phrase, Yogesh Patel was enabling many voices to be heard, across a diverse and multicultural spectrum. He's more than just an editor, publisher, organiser, or cheer-leader - he's a poet, first, and foremost.An eco-warrior by Yogesh PatelShiva’s Rudra Tandava overflowsslithering down a slopelooks into my eyesscaling heights to clouds!Don’t, it would sadly insist,just don’t...Go upstream,you will find rocks.And you will be alone.Go down stream,you will find rivers,cities and finally the ocean,greater than Mount Kailash.And you won’t know where to begin.The clouds you seek on mewill be there too,but you won’t get covered in asheswhen I am Barren Island anger.Tell me, however, good fellow,Why are you chasing clouds?I am not, you fool, I say,I am after the third eyes...Yog…


It is clear after this first presidential debate of the 2020 US election, that America has a choice between a dull, elderly, frail, moderate, Democrat, and an energised, compelling, fascist who encourages white supremacism.It is not clear that Americans will choose the weaker candidate, in terms of age and body language, for some times history veers in the direction of ugly demontstrations of untrammeled power. This conduit to a seemingly fearless, reckless power souce, an elan, is what Trump seems to offer his followers, like a vampire feeding an evil blood supply.Germany had this choice in the 1930s, and went the wrong way after the Reichstag fire. Germany chose low unemployment, a big economy, patriotism, and a repudiation of physical weakness and 'disease', along with their mesmerising, terrible leader, who promised to shatter all the old values and humble the previous world system.Trump's now infamous call to 'stand back and stand by' suggests there may be dar…