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
Great Khanate, Golden Horde,
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?
when the seasons turn
when we scour the earth
when we stoke the fires and the climate’s cooked.
GOMORRAH AND GOMORRAH AND GOMORRAH
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.”
IMPRECATION: WHEN HUSH COMES TO HOWL
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?
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.
COMFORTS, MAJOR . . .
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.
across the keys,
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.
. . . AND MINOR
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