polemical poetry to prickle the politics of "permanent austerity"
thistles stretch their prickly arms afar
(Daniel Defoe: ‘The True-Born Englishman’, AD 1701)
Thoughts on the Government order to promote ‘fundamental British values’ in schools.
You want to be a Brit, here’s what you do,
get your fist in before Jack punches you.
If someone’s out to screw you, play it cool,
so you’ll end up the master not the fool.
With diet it’s taste and knowing when to stop,
ten pints of lager, curry till you drop.
Take foreign, all-in, holidays each year,
sunstroke and sex, one alcoholic blur.
If you’ve the means, remember, golden rule,
you private health, your children public school.
A nation-wide requirement, vital, core,
keep one up on the Jones’ from next door.
Note, if your kids aren’t up to it, won’t pass,
a pych will lay the blame elsewhere for cash.
You slaughter grouse and pheasant, come what may,
ignore the keepers murdering birds of prey.
Celt, Roman, Saxon, Viking, Norman too,
with yet more pick ‘n’ mix as empire grew.
That’s why we thrive, a healthy mongrel race,
it’s pitbull DNA and in yer face.
If all these skills you master, do and say,
then you’ll be true-blue British from this day.
Give thanks, long Europe’s jakes, now, flush with pride,
we’re still the lavatory of choice world-wide.
Peter Branson is poet, songwriter and traditional-style singer whose poetry has been published by journals in Britain, the USA, Canada, Ireland, Australasia and South Africa, including Acumen, Agenda, Ambit, Anon, Envoi, London Magazine, North, Prole, Warwick Review, Iota, The Frogmore Papers, The Interpreter’s House, SOUTH, Crannog, THE SHOp, The Columbia Review, The Huston Poetry Review and Other Poetry. His latest book, Red Hill, Selected Poems, 2000-2012 by Lapwing, Ireland, came out in May 2013.
Our Mongrel Breed
Daniel Defoe (‘The True-Born Englishman’, AD 1701)
This poem’s a fox amongst the hens, each word
a claw, each phrase a wrecking ball, roof, wall
and floor, foundation - ignorance, till there’s
no house of folly left at all, that sense
of being overwhelmed by strangers, folk
who try their fortune here - blind panic, bile,
“What a to-do!” - in Europe’s jakes, enhance
our culture, vitalise our mongrel race.
This morning’s pallid, root-stock still, time stalled,
ice chandeliers on twigs, the slightest move,
keen-set hawk’s breath, will shatter, send to ground
to glisten like the dew, these brittle shards
of frosted glass, self-doubt, small-mindedness,
ill will, that meld to nothing in the grass.