Canto 83: Ripples

I like Mr. Gorbachev. We can do business together.
Margaret Thatcher


Shadows of Empire

Like a young eagle, who has lost the plume
To fledge the shaft by which he meets his doom,
See their own feathers pluck’d to wing the dart
Thomas Moore

Between the oilfields of the Malvinas
March the chosen soldiers of the Junta,
Proving too strong for these scant defenders
They raise the sun-flag of Argentina;
Britannia reels
From this rare perfidy,
But she whom in words deals must court calamity.

Protecting this rock of empire
Thatcher throws in her first team,
That sturdy throat & steady fire
Of the British Army cream,
Whose sharper aim, keener desire,
Shatters the Junta’s dream –
For centuries her expertness in wars
Has flown her flag oer ever distant shores.

As commonwealth islands now throw
The dice of liberty;
Vanuato & Tuvalo
& quaint Kiribati –
The Britisher still British even down in Port Stanley

Falkland Islands
1982


Star Wars

The sky offers hospitality to the clouds.
It is there where thunderstorms
and rainbows come
Filippo Ye

From the knocking at the world’s ending
The Avatars have begg’d to justify
Th’excessive circus of defence spending,
The tragedy of infinite supply;
Fresh satellites
Up to the heavens go,
With laser locking lights some Catennacio!

Below them, crawling in the dust,
The starving Afric masses,
Are hidden by the filthy crust
Which cloaks the banker’s glasses,
Him who invents accounts of trust
For the middle-classes
While ev’ry day the missile docks increase –
Famine! forfeit of this imperfect peace.

In the vast shadow of the day
Those silent snipers wait
For soaring prey, sleek missiles grey
The threat shall dissipate.
Waiting for fingers quivering, tis folly or tis fate!

Space
1984


Glasnost

The consul banged the table & said;
‘If you’ve got no passport, you’re officially dead’:
But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive
WH Auden

From permafrost to burning Crimea,
Russians embrace communist theorum,
Sharing nidamental Utopia,
Alas, with Paradise, just one problem:
Our Human mind,
Quite volatile, unwise,
Possesses self-designed seeds of our own demise.

Latvia & Uzbekistan,
Ukraine & Lirgizia,
Moldavia & Khazakstan,
Elegant Estonia,
Azerbaijahn, Jadzhikistan,
Byelorus & Georgia,
All ballot independence as the Wall
Crumbles into a heap, Germany whole.

The victor of the two-time War:
Hollywood & Disney,
Vast oceans roar against thy shore,
Land of the soaring free,
Entangl’d in alliances from sea to shining sea.

USA
1991


Desert Storm

Eternity wings over desert and home.
The hermits’ mountains, now so dark and high,
Are cloaked by a moon in abbayas
Nathan Alterman

Still bleeding from the Ayahtollan dead,
Saddam Hussein discards his contrees debt,
Why pay when one can just invade instead?
An ancyent raid of nomad chieftains set;
In one hot day
He claims an Emirate,
The world shall have its say on the rape of Kuwait.

Scud missiles scurry thro’ the sky
Riydah struck with Tel Aviv,
As one the Allies made reply
Bomb’d-out Baghdadis bereave
Lifes lot, & still great gryphons fly,
Fresh carcasses to ‘reave,
On turkeys twitching in a field of wheat,
Til lethal reconquista rose complete.

Old herdsmen see the holy sign,
Great oilfields set alight,
Like crimson wine we see the shine
Of day thro’ all the night,
Some sticky sludge slicking the Gulf, stripping the seamews flight.

Kuwait
1991


Modern Holocaust

I sit beneath fir-trees and recollect
The sacred village evenings
Grandfather spoke of to me
Ihor Pavlyuk

Back in the city where the Arch Duke died,
Murder to herald those millions more,
Thought has return’d to gruesome genocide
Fed by another bloody civil war;
Massive schism
Of Yugoslavia,
Petrifies each Muslim of Eastern Bosnia.

The UN leave the safe enclave
Allah’s acolytes to fears,
The Serbs come on, wave-after-wave,
One hundred & fifty years
Since they were flung into a grave,
Protruding spikes & spears –
Where reaching a warehouse in Glogova,
Thro’ their forces flies the goddess KARMA.

Our modern times denies this real,
Machine guns & grenades
Whip, whoom, & wheel, as wounds congeal
Ten thousand join the shades,
At these last corpses filling pits, Europa’s War-lust fades.

Srebrenica
1995


When Mavis met Tommy

Catch, then, oh catch the transient hour ;
Improve each moment as it flies !
Life’s a short summer, man a flower
Samuel Johnson

Tommy Sumner shuffl’d with the old dears
Into the mini-bus outside their home,
The driver sets off to three rousing cheers,
All off to idle by the Irish foam;
An old penny
Was won within the hour,
Claimd by bingo Betty, first to spot the tower.

They book’d into a B&B,
Tour’d the same old streets & sights,
By-the-sea was far too windy
So they tram’d along the lights,
Then all the ladies left Tommy
For chips & early nights,
So he took a walk ter’ Winter Gardens,
& sat on the seat of Mavis Johnston’s…

That’s my stool!” “Sorry, love, dint know!”
They hit it off at once,
Warm talk’s fair flow to long ago,
Rich in reminiscence,
When nights ran Earendillian, vermilion suspense!

Blackpool
1997


Al Shifa

What could I do if
the ghosts of the slaughtered came to me
sorrowing in my sleep, bloody, white and pale
Matthias Claudius

Under the aegis of al-Qu’aida,
Osama Bin Laden catapulted
Into threatening, terrorist leader,
The media scapegoat, truth sepulchr’d;
Then Sudan dares
Concoct own medicines,
Upending profit shares of shock’d corporations;

Who blew apart the factories
& all those precious supplies,
Removing the ability
So never again should rise
Such altruist facility
To stem the mother’s cry
Thro’ medicines affordable to all –
Now rubble, broken bottles, toppl’d wall…

This clearly was an act of war
Upon pastoralists,
“O, what a bore” the UN snore,
World’s envoys turn their wrists,
“Is that the time?” thro’ Khartoum, meanwhile, parasitic cysts.

Sudan
August
1998


Testamundi Imperatrix

The birth canal is yours
Either to open or to close.
Open it you must, dear elders
Hermana Ramarui

A poet born in Burnley, who’d have thought
Of such event – he’d try an epic too!
Completely independent & self-taught,
Finding his art’s traditions in the zoo,
His wildheart freed
Her white wings, to obtain
This Pegasus, this steed, his precious Sylvermane.

With herbal teas & verbal tricks,
Thro’ days of molten sapphire,
He fashion’d the Imperatrix,
His ode to Britain’s empire,
& setting in its closing bricks
He read it by the fire,
A wattle church, but now what cathedral
‘Cross mind’s eye darts, & starts with a battle.

The first two tryptychs richly done,
His Opus had arriv’d,
Napoleon & Wellington
In verses have reviv’d,
Melodically, phantasmagorically contriv’d.

Brighton
October
1999


Al Qu’aida

What are we doing
in this dark land with its
yellow shadows that pierce the eyes?
Yehuda Amichai

There is a new threat to the Allied world,
Outwith Europe, from the Afghan passes,
After the mats of morning prayer furl’d,
Jihadic soldiers tend to their classes;
What powers reign’d
Thro’ their spirit’s guide,
“Let paradise be gain’d thro’ holy suicide!

For we are watchmen of the way,
The guardians of martyrs,
Sons of brave Hossein Fahmideh,
Drinkers of God’s elixirs,
Death-bringers to the USA
& the non-believers,
A weapon unassaillable & good,
Defending faith with droplets, last, of blood!”

America fraught with unease,
But fears flung far away,
From overseas an Arab breeze
Flies into JFK…
Or so they’ll say, those story-tellers call’d the CIA.

New York
2000

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