New BoJos and AntiDemocracies: W.N. Herbert

Rogues Reparcelled

(After Burns, and for Ian Duhig)

Fareweel tae aa oor island’s fame,
fareweel oor claims tae glory;
Democracy lives but in name,
for Parliament’s a story.
Noo saccharine and hollow speech
demeans a Premier’s station,
demarking Bozza’s pinchcock reach –
sic an arse tae prorogue aa the nation!

But sic a guile for mony years,
gained Empire’s greedy wages,
and is wrocht noo by a gang o fieres,
Late Capital’s bluff sages.
Tho Eton Rifles we disdained,
secure in Labour’s mission;
but Eton’s gamesmanship’s oor bane –
sic a farce tae prorogue aa the nation!

Auld Éire lang has seen the play
whaur Tories strut but sell us,
and Scotland sune must brak away
tho Tories tut and tell us.
For wi this shower we must not cower,
but mak oor declaration –
the UK’s soul is bought and sold,
sic a curse tae prorogue aa the nation!

New Beating into Pantisocratic Ploughshares of the Same Old Rattled Sabres: N.S. Thompson

COMING INTO MANCHESTER

 

The city is a collage. You look back,

The station’s shiny sinuous S-curve glints

An avant-garde triumphant in the sun

Avant-la-lettre architecturally,

Abstract, except the banks of glittering scales

Of windows seeming to wriggle towards

You; then a blackened mill, a viaduct, 

Converted warehouse, public house, a bank

From what was once the Florence of the North,

Its civic buildings in a classic style

Once shaded charcoal grey by chimney smoke,

The columns, porticos and tympani

On banks and credit institutions, most

Names now defunct, absorbed by new players on

The block, the public library circular 

In shape, its steps leading to Peter’s Fields

Where tipsy yeomanry once charged at crowds

Protesting peacefully about the need

For parliamentary reform – the vote –

This after years of lack of work and bread

Brought all surrounding mill towns to a stop,

With shadows on the cobbled streets and slate

Roofs capping figures looking gaunt and stark

Who came out in their Sunday best only

To see it decorated with the blood

Of those cut down by indiscriminate

Sabres, the dead eighteen and hundreds more

Maimed, injured, women and children in the toll.

I look down from the library steps and see

And feel the carnage visited upon

The working poor or poor because of need

Of work in Bury, Bolton, Oldham who

Had walked there in their Sunday best to hear

The radical speaker Henry Hunt perform.

 

If Manchester is difficult to see 

Without its history, it paved the way

For what we have to today in highlighting

The need for work and dignity, for care

And overall political reform. 

 

The city is a collage, cut up, put

Together in the mind from patches, past

And present, images and photographs

And print of memories not to forget. 

 

New BoJos & NoMos: Christopher Reid

Buying a Bojo

‘Give me a Bojo!’ the spoilt child cries.
‘Give me a Bojo! I want one now!’
The parents gawp back with alarm in their eyes:
they long to say no but they can’t see how.

‘Give me a Bojo!’ the child repeats.
‘And don’t wait for Christmas! Be quick about it!’
‘Are you sure, my darling?’ one of them bleats,
but it’s plain that their angel can’t live without it.

For the world has been swept by a Bojo craze:
Bojos for sale in every shop,
heaped high on shelves and in window displays,
in a quick-buck orgy that may never stop.

But what exactly is the appeal
of this pudgy and unprepossessing doll,
which can speak, but never says anything real,
and which has all the charm and grace of a troll?

It’s brilliant at bluster and bluff;
its fibs are clearly designed to be funny;
but are these attributes enough
to explain why people part with good money?

The spoilt child’s parents drive into town;
they buy a Bojo, the first they see;
and as soon as they put their tenners down,
they’re told it comes without guarantee.

Then a scurrilous chuckle is heard from the box,
which shakes with menace and merriment
all the way home, while the stink of old socks
combines with an even less wholesome scent.

Neubooterdammerung, 21: Nine Indicative Poems

Now that we are post-NonBrexit, we present Nine Indicative Poems to test the opinions of our readership. Please feel free to vote No to any or all of them.

 

Trump’s Adviser ~ Ellen Phethean

You shouldn’t leave
it till the last moment. What on earth
were you thinking: better dead than red?
It wasn’t wise
to tweet a non-existent border
could be closed. Never state

your views about The State
when in a state. Don’t leave
it till you’re on the wrong side of the border
between consciousness and un. Earth
your ire in sleep, otherwise
you’ll regret it. Have you read

the latest memo? Important bits in red
so even you can’t miss them. Some states
are threatening to block it. So wise
up – leave
the small print to me. I’ll unearth
some stats and figures about borders,

walls, etc, a history that borders
on the boring. Bored
folk don’t bother reading. Earth
could go up in flames, those with big estates
don’t know or care, think they can leave
and find a safe, exclusive place, price wise.

I think they’ll discover otherwise.
We are merely boarders
on this planet, foolish to believe
otherwise. Whatever hue your politics, red
blue or green, nothing and no-one can state
with certainty they’re saved. This Earth

oh, this poor Earth
is heading towards the end. Wise
men of the Fourth Estate
write: don’t sit on the fence, border,
wall, whatever. Be scared. Be very scared.
I’ll leave

you to consider the wise option re the border
leave it up to you, though I doubt you’ve read
anything I’ve written about the state the earth is in.

 

 

Blocheads ~ Alan Smithee

We divide again,
form a new huddle
from the old huddle
again, a division
within a division, again,
bifurcating, again,
regressing within a form,
like fractals, again,
filing through
the lobbies again,
our minds made up
then unmade, again.

Tell us the options,
again, apply the whip
then withdraw it,
again, break a few
heads again, eyes
to the right, noses
to the left, again,
bind us again
to our choices then
unbind us, make
meaningless what
is meaningful, again.

Reschedule again,
push back what is
brought forward
again, get off the plane,
get round the table,
repeat again how
we must respect
the will we think
has been expressed,
again, deliver what
no one can be sure
they asked for, again.

 

 

Booby Trap ~ Neil Young

I’m the trap you set for yourself
when you hacked off my north from south,
the one your old conceit forgot,
red-lined through bog and lough.

Did you think my misty lanes
redundant names on an antique map,
your patchwork to unpick and prod,
there’d never be payback?

I snap but not with flames,
I’m primed with treaty, tongue and pact
and if I flash this time
your own borders will collapse.

 

 

The Brexit Tortoise ~ WN Herbert

 

Xeno was just about to arrive at his desk
in the Ministry of Paradox when he saw the Brexit
Tortoise was, again, ahead of him, and also vexed.

(These End Days it took an extra hour to get to work
with the eccentric gaits staff were instructed to twerk
so as to Take Back Britain’s Silly Walks.)

‘About tomorrow’s votes,’ it began, circumventing
mammalian pleasantries: ‘Did you intend
mine to be followed by the Achilles amendment –

I hear not selling arms makes him angry as hell
but while I have four legs… here, give them a pull.’
At each tug its shell rang like the division bell.

‘Yesterday it was some hare and, boy, did he split them!’
‘Stop! You want my colleague, Zeno – love or loathe him,
he does the meaningless votes, usually verbatim.’

Last week it had been Theseus, who demanded
a report on his ship that once had landed
the treaty from Maastricht unto South Thanet.

So far they’d replaced it spar by spinnaker
till they’d redone the whole hull, so would he state here
it was the same ship, still fit for fools and non-sailors?

Before that, it had been some barber who claimed
to shave every man who didn’t shave him-
self – this barbarous Pole came over here and: shazam!

‘Look, I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I was a Cretan,’
Xeno began, but the tortoise said, ‘Check this banana,
measure that arrow. Only the pointiest may enter Eton:

‘fruit flies prefer one, time flies like the other –
but how shall we decide?’ ‘Why is the arrow withered
and the banana straight? Don’t answer – I’d rather

‘know if it’s true you’re the same chelonian
as did for Aeschylus?’ The tortoise shrugged, nonchalant.
Xeno didn’t know they could do that. ‘Was he Remoanian?

‘I get a lot of wet work. You’d have to call
the stunt eagle. Last week I was up in South Ronaldsay,
being dropped by Childe McGonagall.*

Technically, I’m still supposed to be falling.’
(Here the eyes of the tortoise were jewelled
with insider’s glee.) ‘Confidentially,

‘Icarus is still falling. Theologically, we’re all still falling:
Thatcherella, Major Bum, Gravy Dave, and the May-thing.’
‘Do you mean failing?’ ‘That’s it. Just with more wailing.’

 

* William the Poet…Chanc’d to espy a live Tortoise, that the Dominie kept in the garden, and never having seen such a curious kind of reptile before, his Curiosity was excited no doubt to see it, and he stooped down and lifted the Tortoise with both hands, thereon admiring the varied beautiful Colours of its shell, when behold it dunged upon both hands of William the poet, which was rather aggravating to William, no doubt, and he dash’d the Tortoise on the ground which almost killed it.’

 

Trance – Jim C Mackintosh

Stunned by the cries of Adam’s bairns
I’ve wandered in circles
every breath since madness grew
among birch bone and building root
with those precious bundles
out of my reach,
with eyes full of sadness
as I walked on
tripping over the despair
of the many, the future of all
divided, bargained in division
and there on a loose plinth
a ragged lion,
once brave, now in a trance
and we looked in each other’s eyes
beyond our muteness
more swollen
than the cloud of omens gathering
and screamed in unison – Enough!

 

 

Of Lost Things ~ Matt Quinn

Fast asleep and loose at the seams,
Bagpuss gives up the bowl of choices,
and the rather unusual shop.

The mice sing the song of lost things
and lose themselves in the great fog.
And the fog is everywhere:

fog on the mouse-organ, fog wheezing
from the throats of toads, fog muffling
Professor Yaffle’s pecked-out forecasts

of dismemberment and ripped-up
ragdolls as ornaments on the rigging
of the sinking ship-in-a-bottle.

The ship’s saggy old skipper yawns
and settles down once more
to sleep in the swirling fog.

And everything in the shop window
becomes a thing that somebody has lost.

 

 

In The Same Boat ~ Steve Griffiths

Here’s to the builder who told me,
our journey is not what your journey is.

Here’s to the many who heard the catch in the throat of the motor.

The same boat sails by and we all look at it.

Here’s to the boy of fifteen who once sat at my kitchen table
and told me the friends in Birmingham
wanted him to carry a gun,
and we chewed the fat and tried for calm.

Give me a companion
who sings in the shower, even tunelessly,
though a tune would be a gift.
And let my country be like this too.

There is a tube train coming.
A man teeters on the platform edge
and falls next to the rails.
Do you jump down,
stow him under the platform
and shout at him ‘Don’t move’
with force through the reeling gloom?

More to the point,
there is not a tube train coming,
and your limbs and your mind are not closed or frozen.

 

 

The Morning Has Gold in its Mouth ~ Natalie Shaw

And it is not ours:
keep it from us lest we

spend it all on fags n beer
then lollop into A&E so we can
clog the hospitals with our drunken bodies

If you let us touch it we will turn your gold
into fat and generations of worklessness:
your morning is not our morning.
Our morning rises like an ashtray,
our morning with its purple bruises
stumbles through the day.

 

 

Waiting for the Brexitarians ~ Pippa Little

After Cavafy
(and Banksy’s Parliament painting)

What are we waiting for, assembled in the Commons?

     The Brexitarians are due here today.

Why isn’t anything going on in the lobby?
Why are the chimps sitting there without legislating?

     Because the Brexitarians are coming today.
     What’s the point of chimps making laws now?
     Once the Brexitarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.

Why did The May get up so early,
And why is she sitting at the airport again,
Ready for the Brussels redeye?

     Because the Brexitarians are coming today
     Why don’t our distinguished orators turn up as usual
           to make their speeches, say what they have to say?

     Because the Brexitarians are coming today
     And they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.

Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion?
(How serious people’s faces have become).
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
Everyone going home muttering to themselves?

     Because night has fallen and the Brexitarians haven’t come.
     And some of our men just in from the border say
     there are no Brexitarians any longer.

Now what’s going to happen to us?
Those people were a kind of solution.

 

 

Neubooterdammerung, 20: Clevor Trever and the Chorus of Remoaners

 

What a Farce

After Ian Dury

I could be a blogger with a stack of dull opinions.
I could be an envoy to all the great dominions.

I could be a farmer with subsidies and quotas.
I could work in marketing, manipulating voters.

What a farce
What a farce

I could be a copper or a maverick detective.
I could be a columnist, lousy with invective.

I could be a lobbyist with MPs in my pocket.
I could make deliveries, just sign here on the docket.

What a farce
What a farce

Because I try to make a deal in the Country’s name.
No consensus and we’re all to blame.
Taking control or taking the piss?
What a farce. What a farce. What a farce this is.

 

I could be a dogger, looking for a fumble.
I could join celebrities to frolic in the jungle.

I could host a game show and patronise contestants. 
I could run a hedge fund and maximise investments. 

What a farce
What a farce

I could go on Strictly and smoulder as I Tango.
I could be the mouthpiece for a European quango.

I could teach at Oxford and be always on sabbatical.
I could wrote a couplet what is really ungrammatical

What a farce
What a farce

Because I try to make a deal in the Country’s name.
No consensus and we’re all to blame.
Taking control or taking the piss?
What a farce. What a farce. What a farce this is.
What a farce. What a farce. What a farce this is.

 

Neubooterdammerung, 19: W.N. Herbert

The Fall of Brexitopolis

Reports reach the emperor in his Duckhouse at Drabizond
that Brexitopolis has fallen. Strange. He does not remember
reigning over such a city. Perhaps his great-great-grandfather,
the one who blinded everyone, won it from the Corbynensians –

granting they existed. He fumbles for his golden spectacles,
the ones no engineer can any longer grind the lenses for,
relics of a previous dynasty’s finest composer,
whose robo-nightingale songs were lost with the Imperial

Online Archive. He does not care for music, but still.
Drowsy, he peers at his eunuch’s corns. ‘Bear us to the Room
of the Peripli.’ ‘Sire, you are already here.’ ‘Then illume
charts of our despotates that we may prepare our generals –

this second Brummagem must be retaken.’ ‘My Emperor, I am
all your generals and your admirals, and, it would appear…’
upon the crackled saucer, an inverted postage stamp…
‘Never mind. We know what is written there.’