polemical poetry to prickle the politics of "permanent austerity"
thistles stretch their prickly arms afar
Who Will Speak For England?
Where the voting slips were counted,
children now draw and sing and play,
coughing in the dust that still fills the air,
skipping through the layer on the ground,
finding crumpled ballots here and there.
They puzzle at the scrawl that smears the paper,
screaming out its pint of bitter rage,
clamouring inchoate for a voice.
And the children frown and shake their curled, blond heads:
what is this noise, they wonder? Does someone want to speak?
Out in the street, meanwhile,
and on the dust-choked airwaves,
there is much talk of speaking,
of walking the talk,
of taking it on someone else’s chin,
handing out brooms to the unemployed and capped
so they can cheaply sweep up the lies the talkers told
before the children find them in the dust
and read them out loud
outside Poundland and the sporting sweatshops
where babies are born in toilets during unpaid tea breaks
because the talkers and their ear-flap listeners
don’t like breast feeding in public places,
it gives them puce red faces
and makes their velvet collars curl.
But someone has spoken;
their Voice has been heard.
And in My Lady’s Chamber,
where the dust of ages past
is dutifully debated daily
by blond talkers with loud voices
and divine-right, skirt-wandering hands
(when they’re not straying in the till),
the unanimous, hard-whipped opinion
is that someone somewhere who the clarions call
has definitively spoken
once and for all
there’s no going back
we’re not for turning
to do so would be Tower of London Treason
chop chop chop goes the axe Mr Punch.
England has spoken;
it has done its duty
by the Irish and the Scots
and out-talked the Welsh.
The smell of its voice floats rankly on the breeze
which blows back and forth across the Channel,
clogging the continental air conditioners
like so many times before,
poisoning the atmosphere for friend and foe alike.
England has spoken
Christopher Moncrieff is a European poet who has also translated widely from French, German and Romanian literature (Pushkin Press, Alma Books, Alma Classics & Istros Books). After professional military service in Europe, the Near East and the USA during the Cold War he produced son et lumière-style shows in Germany, France and America before beginning to write full-time, and has also lived in Paris and Los Angeles. He read Theology at Oxford and has qualifications in design and on the military staff. A frequent traveller in Central and Eastern Europe, he speaks a number of the languages of the region. He is an award recipient and Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund, in which capacity he is currently the Writing Fellow at Newnham College, Cambridge, has worked as a mentor for young adults on the autism spectrum, and campaigns for the acceptance of neuro- and gender diversity. His poetry has appeared in the Bucharest Literary Review, Luceafrul, and a new collection will be published by Caparison Books
in 2019. He is also working on a cycle of prose-poem novellas written from a neurodivergent perspective. Personal website: www.christophermoncrieff.com