27 September 2010
Each man is his father's son.
Anders, Lars, Erik, Karl
Where have all the Vikings gone?
Your forbears' longships ploughed the sea
Importing death to Saxon shores
Today you send us Volvos, Saabs
Billy bookshelves, hardwood floors.
Raiding parties, rape and pillage,
Axes that cleft skulls in two
Replaced by mild mannered Borg
And Abba singing Waterloo.
Where's the Viking spirit gone?
Does time dilute your bloodline Sven?
Ikea, Abba, Volvo, Saab
Are all that's left of Viking men.
13 February 2010
8 November 2009
17 October 2009
25 August 2009
10 June 2009
No matter how hard you scrub
Some stains cannot be removed.
Litter is not tolerated. The parks are
Carefully manicured. The public buildings
Rebuilt, modelled in the modern style.
A memorial marks the place where books
Were burnt. The Gestapo headquarters
Are now a museum. The flags of Europe
Hang where Swastikas once flew.
Cars throng the wide open boulevards
Where endless ranks of soldiers marched
And row after row after row of
Tanks rolled past the silent and awestruck.
But the dead still twitch the curtains
At their apartment windows and peer
Nervously into the street. They wait
For the knock on the door.
They stand, unseen, in long shuffling
Lines at railway stations to board
Trains clutching their suitcases and
Their children's hands and one-way tickets.
The Wall is down and fragments sold
To eager tourists. But a scar runs across
The city's memory and white crosses
Mark where hope died in search of freedom.
Berlin. A living memorial to men's inhumanity
To Man. The cross still glistens on the radio tower.
No matter how hard you scrub.
5 April 2009
I have been fascinated by Postman’s Park which is a memorial tucked away in the heart of the City of London. There is an excellent blog describing it here. There are also interesting pieces on it here and here. This is my attempt to describe it, written (with apologies) in the style of one of my favourite poems.
The London Tourist Guide
“And here, ladies and gentlemen, only a stone’s throw from St. Paul’s
Is Postman’s Park. On two sides of this grassy strip the towering walls
Of City offices eclipse the sun. The winding path, the ferns and trees,
Stray tombstones like scattered rocks, echo a silent valley floor. Please
Shall we sit and rest a moment? Over to your right you’ll see
The memorial for which this place is known. Fifty three
Victorian ceramic tablets, crafted by Royal Doulton, plain in design,
Immortalising forgotten acts of self-sacrifice. They combine
To tell stories of selfless courage, a registry of heroic acts,
Each plaque detailing with brutal simplicity the facts
Of how one person gave their life to save another.
“Harry Sisley of Kilburn, aged 10, drowned in attempting to save his brother
After he himself had just been rescued.” In those few words one cannot tell
The full story of the tragedy, the living hell
Of parents who on the same day lost two small boys
Drowned in each other’s arms. But Harry Sisley’s name lives on
Fired in clay for all to see, and still will be, when you and I are gone
And forgotten. Where are our modern heroes? The ice still cracks.
The fires still burn. Deep water still claims young lives. But would we act?
Or in our indecision simply call for help if faced with tragedy?
Enough. We must move on. Next on our tour we’ll discover the Old Bailey ….”