Haiku #768 – #769

768.

I’m selecting cards
In a brand old patience game
No one else here plays.

769.

Backlog blockage tsar,
Latest government recruit.
Bizarrest title.

8-8-8

In the UK,
On average
Every three days,
A woman is murdered
By a man, and
More often than not
Someone she knows
Very well,
But also often
Not as she fell.

Our most
Blessed
Governmental
First
Response
As two more women
Died here this week,
That same way, on
This sceptred isle,
This floating exile,
Is to suggest
A fucking tech solution,
(No surprise when
The cabinet are in bed
With a silicon press)
An app, a number,
Because, of course,
Apps are now salvation.
It’s suggested
This bleak service
Could be named 888,
The numbers you strive for,
You reach for,
You fail to press
As another man attempts
To assault and degrade
And humiliate
One more woman
Again.

I expect it was one more
Male bureaucratic
Whitehall flannelist
Who unimaginatively
Dreamed of channeling this,
Missing nuances
Of the online casino
Entitled this same way,
Their peacock libidos
Obfuscated, getting
In the way.
This system is stuck –
Our chances of survival
Are synonymous with
Gambling, and luck.

Call the number,
Roll the dice,
And if you’re challenged
By fakeries of officers
Or mockeries of ministries
Do not think twice
To run from suffrage
And into your life.

Nubian

My head is compressed
(In cartouche contents
Made for dead
Languages and archaic
Aspirations traced in
Plumes of incense,
Haunting nisba-laden
Conjugations with lists of
Nubian fisheries, bakers,
Haberdasheries and fabrics
From a starry peninsula,
Often misread and
Always missaid aloud,
My name was poorly
Pronounced somehow),
As I tread these deserted fields
Devoid of other dog-walkers,
In colder shrouds and clouds
Formed by exhaustion,
Pressed and re-pressed
Like a dried dandelion
In a volume unread,
My pages of dread speak
Into the breach of
Time and space,
From marbled halls,
A minister disgraced,
To a Baltic beach
Beneath the dacha
Where their children
Reach to impossibly touch
Vapour trails the gods
Of cacophonous oligarchs
Inhale from within their
Sarcophagi (and we are blessed
They said to be able to travel
And sunbathe and have sex
In the toiletry aisle
Of a Balearic supermarket
While a bored middle-aged
Checkout attendant with a
Name badge which reads
Catalina files her red nails
And rolls her eyes
With a fed-up expression,
Until we unknotted our lives
Into marriages and false promises
Or if not false then unwitting
And no less juvenile,
And jobs, and downfalls,
And a vacuous
Repetitiveness of Dawns),
Spumous offerings
And votives and how futile
To think otherwise,
Or to fume with such
Unprecedented fury
Our peers denied,
And all through that time
They were the ones in a happier crowd,
They were the ones burning
A once-fabled cow,
Oiling a river on fire,
Standing up to their knees
In effluence clotted
By our keenness to deliver,
By our kindling desire.

Over a different horizon
I envisaged a raft, far adrift,
Where I was alone and immersed
Therein eternal solace
And a certain bliss.

Generation P (Work It Out)

Preferring by nature or my curse
Cold winter rain and isolation’s
Frayed and penniless purse,
A sarcastic plastering of sunlight
Forced me into action – a walk
With my faithful dog on a Tuesday –
Late afternoon.
I felt like death.
Reverberations unsighted,
We are Generation-P;
Modern cells breeding irreligiosity,
Ferment the wrong and then the worst
Politically dressed as progressiveness –
Anything can be acceptable
If you are just elevated enough;
But my dear, doomed youth,
Therein grows a truth:
As long as you stay tube-fed
Governments will not address
Syphons in the climate
Or typhoons in the west.
On my perambulation and yes,
That is a word, on my walk
Around this mistake I observed
A herd of drunken monks à la mode,
Raucously belting out anthemic notes
Like overweight jackdaws whose rote
Is to caw and claw and breed
In black and white-striped uniformity,
Yet the only way anthems are sung
These days we teach our young
Is when our nameless neighbours
Coalesce to upbraid linesmen
Who are predominantly male,
Predominantly white,
Over another tin of alcohol,
And I am told I am made in his image.
I did not linger in our
Plastic-polluted parkland
Once overemphasised sexual congress
Spilled from a nearby open window
And I could not understand
The need for these over-compensating
Exhibitionists to announce
Their unannealed dependencies.
It is a well known fact that during
International sporting seasons
Domestic abuse atrocities
Rise exponentially;
Some governments keep statistics
For the rhyme and not the reason.
I had been reading about another
Child murder within a murderous country –
A better MP from Birmingham
Stands for once a year in parliament
And reads a list of women dead,
Murdered in one year again
And again and again by men;
Surrounded by blind owls
Who do not usually allow
Or dispensate for lists,
For time might be an enemy of truth
Or even accuracy – what good are lists
Or t-shirts with laudable and
Well-meaning slogans
To avert injustices and oversights
While as I write about my journey
Another daughter and yet another wife
Died for loathing dressed as honour,
For horrors dressed as life.
We said we went to war
For people better off than this.
I am not one for opprobrium,
I returned to my home and my cell
And took another dutiful spell
With ibuprofen mixed
In hydrochloric sodium.





For reference: https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/read-this/list-of-uk-women-killed-by-men-in-the-last-year-read-by-mp-jess-phillips-in-parliament-3163774

Majorca

This government of mine
Has mastered a post-modern
Political and Sophic arts
Of fuckwittery,
Omnishambles,
Clusterfucking, and
Chicanery, as though
Ambling ineptitude
Was newly in fashion,
As if it was a finest
Prensal Blanc from
That sun-blessed island.
Swearing during the pandemic
Like so much hot air
And so much in the ashes of
Public money and taxes
Is uprising.

Why did we lose our hard earned money
As though we were those robbed blind
Homeless wayside token folk
Within a certain scripture,
To those mountain-dwelling raiders
Who did nothing for us,
Who we never befriended or even met
And yet they depreciated
And were depraved;
From our place and our markers
We watched as they built
Majorcan mansions and plazas
Using the future depths of our
Self-dug graves.


I don’t usually provide a narrative to my poems. I prefer the words to speak alone, and I like to think the reader will also find their own meanings and interpretations, if I am using metaphors or allegories. This poem is a little more direct, perhaps, and yet ironically justifies an explanation. I also do not tend to swear, not illiberally, yet the italicised words I use at the top of the poem are some of my current favourites – so descriptive and with currency. I like lists. I have a list ongoing of my favourite words – there are currently 1654 words on the list. I also started keeping a list this year of issues concerning probity and conduct in government. I don’t know why particularly, I suppose it was a constant cause of frustration; the lack of accountability and transparency. It is only from one news source, the UK Guardian online; so many news sources I find difficult to read due to ownership and bias and political leanings. Here is my list so far, though I know that I will have missed a lot. It is just for my own record. Also, a recent study in the UK has shown that swearing during the pandemic has, apparently, increased. Is it little wonder?

(Oh, and as an aside, I travelled to Majorca many times on holiday in the 2000s and it is the most beautiful island, with wonderful people and places. My reference to it in this poem is I suppose the juxtaposition of an ideal, which can become changed by something, but it is not a comment of any sort on Majorca itself – or if it is, it is only positive about that European neighbour – and it was only my poetic licence. Plus, I like the island’s name for the title).

List:

28/02/20 The EU launches its first joint procurement of £1.2m worth of gloves and gowns/overalls. The UK is not one of the 20 member states involved. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/apr/13/timeline-of-uks-coronavirus-ppe-shortage
24/03/20 No 10 says it has not joined EU procurement schemes as the UK is not in the EU and is “making our own efforts”. The government later U-turns to say it failed to receive an email inviting it to be part of the initiative. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/apr/13/timeline-of-uks-coronavirus-ppe-shortage
26/03/20 The government says it has 8,175 ventilators, but turns to British industry to help produce 30,000 in a matter of weeks. The engineering company Dyson reveals plans for an entirely new medical ventilator working to specifications set down by the government. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/apr/13/timeline-of-uks-coronavirus-ppe-shortage
11/04/20 Payment was guaranteed for 3.5m antibody kits designed to show who was immune but they later proved wildly inaccurate https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/11/reveal-cost-of-35m-unusable-covid-19-tests-health-chiefs-told
18/06/20 The government has been forced to abandon a centralised coronavirus contact-tracing app after spending three months and millions of pounds on technology that experts had repeatedly warned would not work. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/18/uk-poised-to-abandon-coronavirus-app-in-favour-of-apple-and-google-models
11/08/20 The government has been urged to demonstrate there was no favouritism at play in awarding Serco a contact-tracing contract worth £108m, as a leaked memo revealed the outsourcing firm was enlisted to help with the Covid-19 response as early as January. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/aug/11/uk-government-serco-contact-tracing-contract-leaked-memo
12/01/21 Lockdown rules in England have been changed at least 64 times by the government since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, a human rights barrister has calculated, amid growing calls for clearer guidance for the public. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/12/england-covid-lockdown-rules-have-changed-64-times-says-barrister
16/01/21 Priti Patel faces growing pressure over deletion of police records https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jan/16/priti-patel-faces-increasing-pressure-over-deletion-of-police-records
16/01/21 Priti Patel faces growing pressure over deletion of police records https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jan/16/priti-patel-faces-increasing-pressure-over-deletion-of-police-records
19/01/21 Crossrail 2: more than £115m spent before project mothballed https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/jan/18/crossrail-2-more-than-115m-spent-before-project-mothballed
22/01/21 Ministers criticised for plans to create 500 new UK prison places for women https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/jan/23/ministers-criticised-for-plans-to-create-500-new-uk-prison-places-for-women
23/01/21 Minister under fire for ‘shameful’ virus spread as staff told to work on with more than 500 cases at agency in Swansea. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/23/minister-faces-fury-over-mass-covid-outbreak-at-top-government-agency
23/01/21 Set up shop in Europe, government advisers tell Brexit-hit businesses https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jan/23/brexit-hit-firms-advised-government-officials-set-up-shop-in-eu
26/01/21 Former Tory MP’s posting as UK ambassador to Cuba raises fresh cronyism claims https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jan/26/former-tory-mps-posting-as-uk-ambassador-to-cuba-raises-fresh-cronyism-claims
28/01/21 How UK spent £800m on controversial Covid tests for Dominic Cummings scheme https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/28/how-uk-spent-800m-on-controversial-covid-tests-for-dominic-cummings-scheme
10/03/21 No evidence £22bn test-and-trace scheme cut Covid rates in England, say MPs https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/10/no-evidence-22bn-test-and-trace-scheme-cut-covid-rates-in-england-say-mps
25/03/21 Liverpool council may have squandered up to £100m of public money https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/mar/25/liverpool-council-may-have-squandered-up-to-100m-public-money
02/04/21 Tory donor lobbied minister to speed up his £65m PPE deal https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/01/tory-donor-lobbied-minister-to-speed-up-his-65m-ppe-deal
31/03/21 No 10’s race report widely condemned as ‘divisive’ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/31/deeply-cynical-no-10-report-criticises-use-of-institutional-racism
21/04/21 Boris Johnson is ‘constantly lobbied’ by text, sources admit https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/apr/21/business-leaders-and-politicians-regularly-text-boris-johnson-sources-admit
22/04/21 Fifth of UK Covid contracts ‘raised red flags for possible corruption’ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/22/fifth-of-uk-covid-contracts-raised-red-flags-for-possible-corruption
25/04/21 Labour calls for Electoral Commission inquiry into PM’s flat refurbishment https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/apr/25/labour-calls-for-electoral-commission-inquiry-pm-flat-refurbishment-downning-street
25/04/21 Boris Johnson urged to reveal if he endorsed Super League plans https://www.theguardian.com/football/2021/apr/25/boris-johnson-urged-reveal-if-endorsed-european-super-league-plans
26/04/21 Johnson denies saying he would rather see ‘bodies piled high’ than third Covid lockdown. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/26/minister-denies-boris-johnson-said-thousands-more-covid-deaths-better-than-another-lockdown
30/04/21 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/apr/30/scandal-charge-sheet-johnson-wallpaper-lying
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/may/12/boris-johnson-faces-court-judgment-over-535-unpaid-debt
17/05/21 Home Office letter wrongly tells British citizens to apply for settled status https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/may/17/immigration-letter-sent-to-long-term-british-citizens-causes-alarm
25/05/21 Tory Islamophobia report criticises Boris Johnson over burqa remarks https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/may/25/tory-islamophobia-report-criticises-boris-johnson-over-burqa-remarks
02/06/21 No 10 advisers who have quit Boris Johnson’s government https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jun/02/no-10-advisers-who-have-quit-boris-johnsons-government
16/06/21 Cummings texts show Boris Johnson calling Matt Hancock ‘totally hopeless’. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jun/16/cummings-texts-show-boris-johnson-calling-matt-hancock-totally-hopeless?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other

On Sovereignty

The country of our birth
Swaddled us at first
With amulets unearthed,
On the Bridge of Rings
Protected by verse and
Nursing circulated words
Designed to strengthen
A calculated succour.

But something went wrong
In the words of the song;
The rings began to throttle,
A rotting curdle clotting,
Until anthems unplugged
In a counterclockwise
Epiglottal vortex drop.
On a yoke of lies we choked

And collapsed, suffocated
By the very state which
For earlier generations
Maintained principles,
Protectiveness.
These words synonymous
Now with stock and broth
For better leaders abroad

To mock. Ours are dressed
In party-patterned frocks
With feathers plucked from
Lame pink pigeon legs
Where eagles nested once.
The continental populous
And associated press join
Lengthy queues for fuel

Of ridicule, and rightly so,
For our leaders heard
Laughter and cheering,
They fuddled and fudged,
Misjudging the thinking,
For the sounds were of jeers,
And a slow, prolonged sinking
Of all we held dear.

 

Ode To Compassion

If governments spent
As much taxpayer funding
On Compassion
As governments do spend
On posturing
And prevention,
Assassins and
Suppression,
Navel gazing
Ministries of War,
Prostitution of Race,
Antagonisms,
Beaurocracy
And laundry bills,
Then would we restore
Purity of purpose,
Currently a famine,
A hundred year long drought,
From the current pretenders
Through the Tudors
And Dark Ages,
All the way down until
Timon of Athens.

If only the ancient
Predecessors
Had invested in
Forums for Compassion,
Perhaps our sufferance
Would subsequently lessen,
Instead of obedience to
These Departments for Death
And Injustice.

Haiku #428 – #431

428.

False economies,
Three million antibodies
Bought but not working.

429.

And children playing
In squares devoid of contact,
This unflinching sleep

430.

PPE unboxed,
Unless it’s at your border,
Who checks the orders?

431.

Elderly afloat,
Yet still the raft-makers gloat
Over the woolsack.