Two political poems by David Bleiman
Get Brexit, Donne?
The grass grew green again
over the rust and richer dust,
where leaders’ lies congealed.
That turf was turned for further use,
a people buried in the mass, ashen,
making their piece of the continent.
The grass grew tall and
this time would be tended well,
a continent divided,
packaged for holidays and peace.
Where east I crossed beneath the Wall,
declaring Human Rights
in pants concealed,
an iron curtain rose
on hopeful nations looking west
until again the lights went out.
In Caledonia, north of Rome,
we’d seen it all before,
when garrison and gods were gone,
each tribe robbed out a local creed.
New spectres haunting Europe stalk
the ancient walls of Berwick, facing
south across the Tweed.
Think only this: that if a parting tide
should suck this clod of earth away,
still in some corner of a foreign field we stay,
not dust, not cliff edge, clod nor precious isle,
protected by a moat that serves as wall,
for we are part and parcel of the main
and though today for gain or pain, we leave,
yet we remain.
Bring gently to the boil
Take wisdom of youth, impatience of age,
stir in exhausted hunger’s appetite for change,
add a pinch of common sense, an ounce of compassion,
America battered but back in the game,
and half the people, half the time,
coming to the boil at a rolling simmer
and whisk the mix to a stiff resolve.
MarinadeWeltschmerz in rage and time,
add idealism, green, raw and ready,
the fruits of science, bruised and ripe
to patiently declaim this globe’s demands,
blend in your refugees and help them settle,
add hope and ginger up, but sparingly,
for this is a season to taste not waste.
Ignore the instructions on wrappers,
don’t do what it says on the tin,
bin Escoffier, anarchist cookbooks,
ban cocktails, for toffs and Molotovs,
utopias, dystopias, myopias;
all banners bright will burn tonight
if you once take your eye off the heat.
Now fold in all your leftovers,
lost and found or gone to ground,
your punks and social media junkies,
huddled masses, middle classes,
combine all colours, ages, orientations,
and though we can’t all be or even see the light,
still we have world enough and time
if most of us at least can tell the day from night.
David Bleiman is an Edinburgh-based poet who took to writing poetry in his sixties. He was the Scottish official of the University and College Union (UCU) until 2009 and was STUC President in 2002. His first book of poetry is reviewed in this issue.