polemical poetry to prickle the politics of "permanent austerity"
thistles stretch their prickly arms afar
Signs of things to come
(General Election, May 2015)
The prosperous part of the constituency –
large houses, gardens sweeping to the road,
trees in spring greens, a cherry petal blizzard
in the breeze. Like estate agents’ boards
on a high-turnover street, signs – blue
after blue – command us to VOTE CONSERVATIVE:
despite its claim, the solitary orange diamond
won’t win here – and azaleas are the only red.
Once green, now white, the scribbly tree
is a thundercloud against the blue, threatening
a terrible rain. If we obey the command,
the bleached flag we raise will tacitly accept
estates sprawling over farming land,
nimbys tilting at windmills in the shires,
insecticides confusing bees, and toxic sludge
expelling gas from the shales beneath our feet.
Political galleries have served us ill, hanging
simple pictures in hues that won’t offend
and abstract splatterings we can’t decode.
They display no worldly vistas on their walls,
no rain forests being logged for cash,
no seas with declining stocks of fish
no herds of hormone-treated cows,
no fossils belching greenhouse gas.
We’ve seen the pictures on TV – droughts,
cyclones, clear blue water where once was ice –
yet our leaders sing only the siren song
of competitiveness and growth, as if Earth
were infinite, not zero sum. Change? Not much,
whichever spectral hue attracts your vote:
there’s no crock of gold at the rainbow’s end –
only shattered stumps in a barren land.
The parties, utterly obsessed with polls
(who’s ahead, who’ll align with whom), focus
on tactics, not broader views, whilst all the time
staying schtum on what they intend to do.
‘We are making a new world’, they all insist,
though newness will come at humungous cost:
perhaps our best chance is to be pioneers
establishing ourselves on the plains of Mars.
Mantz Yorke lives in Manchester. His poems have appeared in Butcher’s Dog, Dactyl, Dawntreader, Lunar Poetry, Popshot, Prole, Revival and The Brain of Forgetting magazines, in e-magazines and in anthologies in the UK and US.
The Large Humdrum Collider
It doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked for years. Impressive
at first glance, the chamber is more museum piece
than functioning device. Its fittings look good,
but the mechanism only goes through the motions:
our wellbeing’s improvement has a likelihood of zilch.
Designed to smash, head-on, intense beams of policy,
the generators have lost power: today they shoot
only a sluggish plasma of rhetoric and insult.
‘Collision’ is too fierce a word for hot air hitting vapour:
‘collusion’ is more appropriate when political distinctions
have little difference, and corporations, consultants
and sycophants hold sway. The ritual clashes
across the dispatch box reignite a childhood fascination –
clacking, under the sheets, humdrum lumps of quartz
to produce momentary glints of light, hints of heat,
and the faintest whiff of bonfire night.