Tim Cawkwell's Cinema

Intelligible writing on intelligent film


This is the text version. A version with images is on YouTube - go to bit.ly/DAndFYouTube



You shoulda been there

when Attila roamed

when Tyndale burnt

when Twin Towers fell


when Tertullian thundered

when the Turks came in

when Qin kicked Zhou


when Reds scared hell

when Cortez conquered

when Caesars caesura’d


when fire first sparked

when wine from water

when the atoms split

you shoulda been there



It’s Hitler v Stalin

It’s Prods v Pope

It’s cross v crescent




the Greeks v Medes

the Scyths v Goths

Ostro v Visi

Adolf v Joseph

Rus v Tartars

Huns v Rome

Huns v Brits

Chinks v Yanks

Hutu v Tutsi

Inca, Aztec,

Arian, Barbarian,

Caesar, Reich,

Abbasid, Sassanid,

Great Khanate, Golden Horde,

Comanche, Apache,

skull v bones



Word versus Sword?

Fact versus Lie?

Fate versus Hazard?


Affirmative. Copy that.



Alaric, Attila, Genseric, Totila,

and all that northern gang,

got together to gang up on Rome.

It could only mean one ruinous outcome:

Rome was too cushioned,

so Rome was savaged,

Rome was unsinewed,

Rome was gang-ravaged.



Where were you

when they dreamt up God

when letters were cut

when God was dead, they said?



What bugs me is where you’ll be

when the harps are hung

when the tweets run out

when the signal’s lost

when it’s fire next time?



That’s history

when the seasons turn

when we scour the earth

when we stoke the fires and the climate’s cooked.



We are washed in the gush of the too-much culture

So more is less and less than nothing.

How long must I suffer this granola-crunching generation?


I’ve been pitched headlong, I’m in a nadir situation,

I’m condemned to dwell in a marshmallow nation.


Spare me, sir, your diabolical hyperbole.

Ta gueule, madame, your miserable hyperbabble.

Your mighty heart leaves almighty headache.


Britain’s a breeze, or a storm that’s passing?

Or are we into Storm Zachariah?


Or else it’s nothing but goldfish-bowlish,

sans bite, sans head, sans heart, sans polish.


We pushed and we shoved, we moved and we shook,

We grinned and bore it tho’ stirred and shaken,

We bust no blocks, we’re a micro cult classic . . .

Milton and his seed forever . . .

While the blockbusters ring us ready to crush us.


Our minds, once scissory, have gone quite blunt,

We once had gods but they’ve been exploded.

The flag flaps tattered, our culture’s corroded.


When brushed comes to bruised, when bruised comes to battered,

we risk in the end that our blessings are shattered.


The stars look down and are not amused.

This mongrel doggerel condemns the taste of the age.


A little voice whispers: “This Gibbon’s a bummer,

let’s tweet again like we did last summer.”




Go stiff yourself, caliph,

stab yourself, Shabab,

eat lead, jihadis.


Die, merchants of malware,

go hellwards, infectors,

go vanish, siloviki.


Go fish, you flaming Ferraris,

eat dirt, jumped-up chefs,

strip naked, Celebrity.



Twittersphere is flittersphere,

Facebook Like is so last year,

Snapchat is crapchat.



My head is empty,

my eyes are blinded,

my heart is virtual,

my stomach winded,


my mind is sodden,

my soul is rotten,

my teeth are grinding,

my eyes go blinded,


My body is racked, it’s shrunk and jowelled,

I feel as if I’m disembowelled.

My loins are fading

my body is fissured

my muscles are failing

my timber’s shivered.




Will evil stumble just when it’s gaining?

‘cos first it crawled, but now it’s running,

for the pundits say that the hacker’s cunning,

the party’s over, put off your funning.


The braggart’s tweets are trending madly,

You begin to wonder if it’s ending badly.


The haves want more, the poor are skint,

the rich are sucked into being skinflint.


We say we’re sinless, and fall to sinning,

we’re head into headwind, and we’re not winning.



I said to myself, I said,

sing out or sign out.

Go dwell in Hades,

among the baddies,

I said to myself, I said.




Atheism’s over, don’t you know,

On being pulped its juices underflow,

and when you stop to taste

you suck, you gag, you choke.

It seems so enticing,

yet its sourness is hazing,

its sick-making surprising.


Let back enchantment, don’t you know,

a chance aroma of summer scent,

honey set to overflow,

its richness ripened and full meant

to swell the barn to its full size

a sweetness filling all our days,

making profound, abundant prize.



Slough off the hobbit-habit, make like an ent,

Send my soul to a place heaven-sent,

Slough off what’s crap, what’s junk, what’s sham,

Rinse me, God, in the blood of the Lamb.



From AHM, Good Lord, deliver us.

Anger, Hatred, Malice, that is,

and all uncharitableness.






I write and I write

I plead and I plead


I rant and I rant

I whinge and I whinge

I moan and I groan


I die and I die

I fade and I fail


I rot and I rot

leafmould to leafmould

Adam to Adam


I hope and I hope



L’homme aimable  seems all buts, all ifs,

then shrugs his shoulders – et sort ses griffes.



Is it really the case

that there’s no nice bones

in this battered body?



Where does this come from?



knows where.



What’s it like, then?

Pure and simple drudgery






“Won’t get fooled again”

won’t get foiled again

won’t get sold again,

won’t get  felled again.


“Sun arise early in the morning.”

We arise too, to raid the fridge.

What the new day brings we’re forever learning.

Yet crossing the torrent needs only a bridge.


“Make the U.S. great again, let it move and shake.”

Wake up! Rise up! Don’t be so dismal,

we should not fear that fear’s on a comeback.

Normality is now, it’s the new normal.


We were unhorsed in Basra,

but our soul’s not been stolen;

we were hammered in Helmand,

but don’t be crestfallen.


Stocks go up as well as stall,

the graph is never a perfect straight line.

Empires, its true, decline and fall.

Empires, it’s true, rise and shine.


Dark Ages are brightened

when they’re flooded with light

from researchers, historians, our inquisitive bent.

We dubbed them ‘dark’ – it’s not what we meant!


Among so many flames and so much burning,

sense dictates we should be philosophic.

I’m needing a dose of late late-learning,

chew it, digest it, seek the next topic.


Philosophy bites are always consoling,

lifting us clear from the brink of the chasm;

its comfort sustains us when we feel like we’re falling.

Let’s take Boethius into our bosom.





The image flickers,

makes eyes to shake,

the optic nerve

jerks us awake.


Words on the airwaves

are frequently strident.

Words on the page

are often more potent.


A C-minor chord

hangs in the air;

a fugue leads us where

the riches are stored.


Spiderhands move

across the keys,

downbeat notes

make upbeat praise.


Decline and fall

soothes the soul,

calms the heartbeat,

makes all in all.


You’re an ex-bigwig,

once the Great Khan,

now your wig’s trashed,

you’re history’s trashcan.


Peace soaks up blood,

restoring the nation.

Ebb comes to flood,

it’s now saturation.





When curse comes to bless

when howl comes to hush

expel the damp within my flesh.


Fly straightly, hooked hawk, in the pride of your power,

sing sweetly, sweet bird, in a late late hour.


Look to the hoverfly for fly flying moves,

give ear to the nightjar who can’t stop purring.




Give rein to flashbacks, memory-stirring,

embrace all traces of your own lost loves.



The warbler has a song of price, listen to its song of grace,

awake to hope, bow heart, lift face.


From root grows limb, from limb grows branch, from branch shoots shoot . . .


Sound the antiphon, radiant dawn,

light invisible piercing the shades.





The End Times are passé,

they’ve been snatched on high

to the dustbin of history,

to the archive in the sky.


. . .



Words are petals, to be admired.

Let’s not be mocked, shocked or hacked.

Our lips are stirred to the praising word.

Our embers flare, our soul is fired.


. . .




Run sweetly, soft Tas, till I end my song.

When I clam up, the clamour is gone.

Run softly, sweet Tas, when my song’s long gone.




© Tim Cawkwell 2016

Norwich, UK