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.




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