Liberté égalité fraternité

 

Liberté—

my freedom to do what the fuck I like

Égalité—

each steaming pile of ideological shit is as valid as the next

Fraternité—

all brothers when it comes to keeping the sisters in their place.

 

When is the great awakening? I used to think it came with

civil rights and anti-fascism, Touche pas a mon pote,

 

animal rights and Bring back our girls with Je suis Charlie,

veganism and Me too. Finally, the great shake-up.

 

But we wander now lost among the needs and causes,

applauding those as luminaries who bring the dark veils

 

of religion back into the public sphere, feminists who see

modesty as more important than equality, men black and

 

white united in their dismissal of women, rich of all

complexions defending their wealth from the teeming poor,

 

and the asinine sniggering of the deniers of everything—

climate change, inequality, the roundness of the earth.

 

Meanwhile, back at the burning house,

what is the name for planet-murder?

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I’ll believe perhaps

 

I’ll believe life is good

when you can show me

the faces of Syrian children,

smiling.

I’ll believe life is good

when you can show me

the empty stalls

of the last veal calves

closed forever.

I’ll believe in life

when the trees tell me

they can breathe again,

when no man wields a gun

and death

with the impunity of a god.

Show me justice, compassion, respect,

then I’ll believe,

not before.

Voices of the earth

A first poem for OctPoWriMo day seven. Theme, tongues. I might write something a little brighter later.

800px-Glacier_National_Park_fires_at_night_(562aff37-f7b6-4cf5-94dd-6048fe01b352).jpg

Listen, can you hear

the voices in the wind

that come from far and near,

clamouring, confused with fear?

From blazing forest comes the wind,

from desert parched and drear,

with plaintive children’s cries,

silent, wide eyes of hind

and trembling of hare.

They are the voices of the world,

this earth of all hypocrisy stripped bare,

they speak the tongue of despair.

Thought for the day

 

“It’s not guns that kill, it’s people.”

This neat little phrase, so often heard, so often decried, is also so true. It is people who do the killing, so lets not blame bits of inanimate metal. All the evidence, logic and common sense points to it—Americans should not be allowed access to guns.

 

Some of the things I don’t understand

The French are supposed to be Cartesian. I’d like to see some proof. Today there were two announcements on the news that bewildered and angered me. Farmers are going to be allowed to mow their set-aside fields to help with the penury of hay to feed livestock. My logic says that means we have too many cows to feed without putting the whole notion of set-aside, one of the few ecological measures applied, in jeopardy. Then, in practically the same breath, the farmer’s representative triumphs that the new international agreements mean French farmers are going to find it easier to get rid of surplus milk production by exporting to South America.

I might be missing some crucial point of economic theory here, but the facts are 1) the demand for milk has decreased, yet 2) milk production has increased, because 3) dairy farmers complain they are not being paid enough per litre, hence 4) the milk surplus is increasing and we are having to mow all the fragile wild animal habitat to feed the cow population.

Not being French I can only use my own variety of logic, but it screams at me, if the French population is stuffed to the gunnels with dairy produce and can’t take any more, why the feck don’t the farmers produce less, give the poor overworked cows a break, keep fewer of them because they cause more CO2 pollution than the road network, and charge more for the milk? Why is the prevailing logic still, produce more, earn more, and if the local population won’t drink it, we’ll sell it to South America? Don’t they have cows in South America?

The whole business stinks of exploitation and cruelty. Food surpluses mean that we are producing too much of the wrong things. Cattle feed takes acreage away from human feed. It’s uneconomical in terms of protein per acre and it’s polluting. And that’s not even taking into account the awful cruelty of it. Five thousand animals killed every TEN SECONDS in France for human consumption. Maybe the end of the world isn’t such a bad idea.

 

What price my freedom,

to walk in peace where the only sound

is the wind in the leaves and sleepy bird-voices,

to keep the town at bay, the pesticides away,

to smell the scents of mown hay

when there is no light in the sky to distract?

To consume little, waste nothing

and leave the wildflowers standing until winter comes,

to feed the birds, keep away the men with guns,

plant hedges and bask in their singing, their flower scent,

seems the righteous course.

The price is still for most the sprawling town,

the concrete hell of commercial zones and spaghetti roads,

and plastic packages for things already plastic-wrapped

and put in plastic bags that fill the wounds

in scarred and dying landscapes.

The price is still the wail of imprisoned calves,

calling for their mothers

and the moaning of mothers for their lost children.

 

 

Rain and fire

William_Turner_-_Sunrise_with_Sea_Monsters

When rain falls a (grey) veil

from a sombre sky

where no (light) strikes sparks

of fire from poppy (and) rose

(I sink) to the level of mud and sodden grass

poke fingers (in) the loosening clay

to feel life (writhing) beneath

and deeper still

the fiery (veins of) the earth’s (blood)

coursing.

Cold seeds salamander-coddled

need (no hope) in tomorrow

to burst (in) green sappy stalks

leaf and flower-furled.

(Stars) wheel

fire calls to fire and the tides shift moon-struck.

Between fire and (falling) rain I wait

with the patience of a seed

for the wheel to turn to sunburst.

Deirdre

 

When fate

the king

the hero out of stories

comes swooping in on a white charger

sweeping up in uncompromising arms

and muting protest with a mouth

tough as a final demand

and the bailiffs already at the door

is it love?

Do I get to say

I’d rather

with this kind of dream

or is it as unnegotiable

as the small print at the bottom of the loan?

I pat the horse and offer it an apple

but it never breaks step

not even when I fall

and my head hits

that providential stone.

 

 

Words

This morning a hero died, Arnaud Beltrame, the gendarme who exchanged himself for a hostage, knowing he had little chance of coming out of the siege alive. He didn’t. His assassin was not a hero, or a martyr, though that is how he wanted to be remembered. He was a small time delinquent with a great big chip on his shoulder. I don’t much care whether he represents his co-religionists or not, whether he was a good or a deluded Muslim. He used religion as an excuse to go on a rampage and rob others of their lives, but he could just as easily have used a political ideology, or the kind of nauseating notions that don’t deserve the title of ideology.

The US gun control debate has no place in this tragic episode, and the recuperation of these deaths for their own ends by the pro-shooters sickens me. Gun violence and sectarian differences are what caused it—only their elimination could have prevented it. Until we learn to think for ourselves, to be able to look at our fellow human beings as our equals, to stop defining ourselves by our colour, religious affiliation or gender, to learn compassion for all things, to find better uses for our spare time than shooting and killing or muttering prayers to one or other of the various gods/spiritual entities humankind has invented, our species will never reach the heights of goodness of dogdom.

 

Gull soars skyward

a spirit dissipates

our shame lingers.

The gold has gone from the sun

night2

The gold has gone from the sun, the sky

Is pale as ice on a northern sea, and cold,

For you have gone and turned your back on this,

The place, the nest we built of scraps of dreams.

I sift the coloured shards that lie in drifts

About my restless feet, as dry as leaves,

And hold them up against the wintry light,

But all I see is everlasting night.