polemical poetry to prickle the politics of "permanent austerity"
thistles stretch their prickly arms afar
Terry Jones' poems have appeared in The Morning Star, The Robin Hood Book. The New Statesman, Poetry Review, The London Magazine, New Welsh Review, and many other magazines and anthologies. His first short collection, Furious Resonance was published by Poetry Salzburg in 2011.
A Letter To Wat Tyler
I think you would be baffled to know
that a thousand years after you were slashed
and stabbed, dropped like a dog
at Smithfield, probably kicked and stripped,
the bits of you carted around the Kingdom,
that we have put robots on Mars,
speak to each other in light waves,
could move from London to Cornwall
(traffic permitting) in the same time taken
to make a turnip or a rabbit stew.
Not that you, weed amongst wheat,
down to earth, were well disposed to miracles:
believing that a labouring man could make
as good a sacrament between two irons
as the priest does upon his altar:
you would shake your poll of hair,
the locks of the unwashed, in disbelief.
But think. Our million sized villages lit at night;
flying crafts in the air; mad magics
transformed into the daily ordinary,
though never belonging to the ordinary.
You would be much less surprised to know
that all men are not free and of one condition,
that most of the world is unchanged,
that children turn to sticks and die
that the self-entitled swan the planet,
and the same men who put you in place,
preened in rank and gold esteem,
are still in charge; believing that for humans,
providing they are not their own blood,
nothing is enough and nothing good enough.
Forget this letter: I wanted a surprise;
I nearly tricked myself into seeing your eyes
light up with a sense of wonder.
You wouldn’t believe it, but half-gutted,
coughing blind in your own common blood,
you would recognise the new world.
You would need to make a fresh march
on the new priests, the towers of privilege,
on the self-servers, the un-affirmers
who cancel society and assert themselves.
You see, everything has changed, but this:
the contemptible poor still die in their ditch
and god remains utterly loyal,
without question, on the side of the rich.