Militant Thistles

polemical poetry to prickle the politics of "permanent austerity"

atos Poor Doors Sheriff Stars spikes

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle bedroom tax Disrupt and Upset

Bernard Saint

Pharmacy

 

1. B.C.

 

Mix a little flesh

Of venomous snake with garlic

Ginger and judiciously

Add the juice of Asiatic poppy

Then one measure of well-aged wine

 

The fermentation of the whole

Is commended as a cure-all

To victims of all sudden

Or slow poisonings

 

2. A.D.

 

Opium enters the port

As black bricks in wood boxes

 

Ground with spice and sherry

Apothecaries carry

‘A penny laudanum’   -

The glass container popular with ladies

 

A gentleman may order by the pint

For household usage   -

Bronchial cough suppressor

Rheumatic and toothache reliever

Teething sleeplessness and menstrual cramps

 

     A boon to all the family

    From day of birth to death

 

 

Bernard Saint was born in 1950 into a rural working-class family. His poetry first appeared in U.K. and U.S.A. magazines and journals from 1964 onwards. Both a literary and performance poet with many public readings and some BBC radio in the 60s and 70s ‘British Poetry Renaissance’; these saw him often in the company of earlier generations of poets including John Heath-Stubbs and Anne Beresford, in whom he found greater affinity. Meary Tambimuttu, the editor of Poetry London in the 40s and resurgent 70s, noted favourable comparisons in his work with Keith Douglas. He has variously performed under the aegis of New Departures, The Poetry Society, Aquarius, Angels of Fire, The Cambridge International Poetry Festival, The Aldeburgh, and The William Alwyn Festivals, and, locally, Ouse Muse. He has taught at Antioch and Johns Hopkins Colleges (U.S.A.) in their London and Oxford summer schools, but preferred inner-city work as an I.L.E.A. special needs tutor in psychiatric hospital settings. He trained in the Jungian approach to Arts Therapies for groups and individuals, working in N.H.S. Psychiatry and in The Robert Smith Alcohol Unit, in both settings as practitioner, supervisor, and also in private practice. Main Poetry Publications: Testament of the Compass (Burns & Oates 1979), Illuminati (Greville Press 2011), Roma (Smokestack Books 2016), Saturae & Satire – poems of John Heath-Stubbs (Ed.) (Greville Press 2016), Welcome Back to the Studio (Cassette only) (Lyrenote 1988). His poetry has also appeared in the anthologies Poems of Science (Penguin 1984) and Transformation (Rivelin Grapheme 1988).

3. TODAY

 

She will not take the doctor’s morphine linctus

 

So lucidly she curses all her carers

‘Meals are late and often barely warm’

Her room ‘has not been cleaned

For weeks and whose misplaced

Bottle-lensed old spectacles are these?

 

What have you done with the N.H.S.

Since I retired from it?

Why is it so underfunded and so bloody inefficient?’

 

She will not take the doctor’s morphine linctus