not going the right way

those who would listen to the tricky sun

expecting that its laughter portends good

are certain that they have not understood

when they look up and see the staring gun

truth does not liberate this fact will stun

the childish mind that thinks in terms of should

and sees the living man as saint in wood

finds now that something different has been spun

into the shadow no one seeks to go

but those deep voices and their angry tone

have more to say and seem today more true

about those matters that not one could know

before the knife had cut through to the bone

exposing so much sorrow to the view

span.jajahWrapper { font-size:1em; color:#B11196; text-decoration:underline; } a.jajahLink { color:#000000; text-decoration:none; } span.jajahInLink:hover { background-color:#B11196; }

villanelle for a new beginning

if all is measured and comes up too short

at the beginning all was calm and clear

at least we know we sailed from the right port

so many words and so high their import

uttered with gravity and without fear

if all is measured and comes up too short

there is not one who would dare to distort

the grace and beauty that make this day fair

at least we know we sailed from the right port

cheered by an assemblage of every sort

of human being given to our care

if all is measured and comes up too short

there is no crime no sin of false report

to hide our faces but we have to care

at least we know we sailed from the right port

we ask no judgment since there is no court

above our heads in the still winter air

if all is measured and comes up too short

at least we know we sailed from the right port

under the casuarinas

these mottled shadows mark a middle day

when even buzzing flies do not distract

and all the senses into calm contract

all who are wise seek shelter from the ray

desiring to keep head and heart intact

these mottled shadows mark a middle day

when we pass through we’ll catch sight of the bay

in middle distance through a glass that’s cracked

and in the haze not tell what’s dream from fact

these mottled shadows mark a middle day

span.jajahWrapper { font-size:1em; color:#B11196; text-decoration:underline; } a.jajahLink { color:#000000; text-decoration:none; } span.jajahInLink:hover { background-color:#B11196; }

span.jajahWrapper { font-size:1em; color:#B11196; text-decoration:underline; } a.jajahLink { color:#000000; text-decoration:none; } span.jajahInLink:hover { background-color:#B11196; }

what the boy saw

a sluggish snake of water in morass

black against vulgar green and very slow

the map names it broad river how i know


that is a lesson for another class

where you may ask about what lay below

a sluggish snake of water in morass


as dark and hostile as volcanic glass

but lacking any memory of glow

simple and steady in its westward flow

a sluggish snake of water in morass

down the islands

the shine of emerald from steady growth

hides from us the smiling face of hell

we have the sunshine and the shadow both

the odour of fresh roses and the smell

of  rot and dung and none is truly hid

from those who want to look but none will tell

any large truths although if any did

there’s none who’d care or have a thing to say

since honest folk have fallen from the grid

and cultivate their gardens for the day

that they have left before the storm appears

out of the sea and sweeps the waste away

making things clean for one or two brief years

until the forest can return to place

and under branches we see the old fears

laughing and dancing and seeking embrace

of their old kingdom and their ancient arts

while on the hill some old fool says disgrace

and others tell false stories of their parts

in different dramas on this very scene

and in the process corrupt many hearts

twisting and turning away from the mean

those who had come out of the chill of night

and taken joy in the clear morning green

knaves leave their streaks wherever there is light

A Picture Worth A Thousand Words

John Maxwell

There is a picture that has made front pages round the world. It is  fairly simple picture; against a background of bombed and burning buildings there are three people in the foreground. A woman, in a paroxysm of grief and probably terror, a man, her husband perhaps, a picture of impotent rage and in his arms, their son, an infant of majestic detachment, conscious it would seem, of everything, but not in the least disturbed. He knows too much, already – it seems.

*             *             *             *             *

Fifty New Year’s Eves ago nearly nine out of every ten people now alive weren’t born yet.

I was then 24, contemplating marriage and, with my girlfriend, celebrating the ending of the old year with a close friend and his wife in their house in Gordon Town.

We were listening to one of about 80 Cuban radio  stations we could hear in Jamaica, It was Radio Rebelde, the voice of the 26 of July Movement.  We were expecting interesting news, as over the past few days it was becoming obvious that the tide was turning against ‘la dictadura’  – despite all the US attempts to shore up the bloody tyranny of Fulgencio Batista

On New Year’s Eve the American effort came crashing down. The Radio Rebelde announcer began to shout:

“The Dictator has fled! the tyrant has gone!”  Pandemonium!

All of a sudden the disciplined broadcasters of Radio Rebelde were like high school kids, celebrating end of term.  We listened to make sure we’d heard right and then Wilmot Perkins and I and our ladies jumped up and down, singing Cuban songs and drinking toasts to Fidel, Ché, Raul, Camilo  and whoever else we could remember.  Some of them we’d met on their way through Jamaica, courtesy of Gabriel Coulthard who seemed to know everyone in Latin America and brought them round to meet us at Public Opinion. Fidel’s lawyer, Baudilio Castellanos, was one.

For most younger journalists in Jamaica at that time, Cuba was the big story and a year later, after the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation had come into existence, I decided to go to Cuba to find out what was going on.  When my mother heard of my plans she convinced Wills Isaacs, a family friend  – to try to talk me out of it. Wills, then Minister of Trade & Industry did even better. With his good friend Aaron Matalon, Wills offered me a year on an Israeli Moshav cooperative farm – which they knew fascinated me – if only I would not go to Cuba, where I was ‘more than likely to be shot’.

At that time I was really deeply interested in the new social experiment that was Israel and like most people at that time had no real idea of what had happened to the Palestinians, no idea that the Palestinians were being made to pay in blood and treasure, for what Europe had done to the Jews. As a child I’d seen the horrific pictures of the stick figures of dead and dying Jews in the German extermination centres, Belsen, Birkenau, Buchenwald, Dachau and Auschwitz, the  names themselves seemed  to stink

I never saw pictures of the Palestinian refugees in their camps nor any documentaries of their Nabka –  their counterpart to the Jewish holocaust.

I was an admirer of Israel, of Ben Gurion and Shimon Peres, of  Abba Eban of Golda Meir and Teddy Kolleck. My first real problem with Israel came with their execution of Adolph Eichmann. I said in a newspaper commentary (1963) that for Israel to reintroduce the death penalty for Eichmann was a dangerous error. To hang him for facilitating the murder of six million Jews plus homosexuals, Gypsies blacks and others was to devalue their lives. Eichmann, I suggested, should be sentenced to work in a kibbutz, to experience at first hand, the civilisation he had tried to destroy. That would have been real punishment. Continue reading

the angle means something

always the eye returns to the same view

of plain and river and the water there

forming a boundary of sun and air

so much i thought at once merged old and new

there was no voice to warn nothing to fear

always the eye returns to the same view

where each looks westward seeking for a clue

where day has vanished and the load of care

seems now to double and we are aware

always the eye returns to the same view

span.jajahWrapper { font-size:1em; color:#B11196; text-decoration:underline; } a.jajahLink { color:#000000; text-decoration:none; } span.jajahInLink:hover { background-color:#B11196; }

record of defeat

against these bonds it is not hard to chafe

not knowing what or who will keep us safe

nor where each danger lies there’s the true rub

a deadly serpent hiding under shrub

or bolt of lightning out of cloudy sky

truth hurts enough we cling to comfy lie

in hope that when the pain we feel abates

there won’t be monsters howling at our gates

no certainty was given us at birth

today we’ve plenty and tomorrow dearth

those are our choices all the while we scorn

the hard decisions made by those who torn

between the injuries of times long past

and those of futures into which we cast

not only hope but all the goods of chance

have chosen wrongly now we take the pain

not out of reason but since you abstain

from complete judgment there’s no better path

between the harvest and the aftermath

out of the vision that which we desire

is not the only evil to acquire

darkness is all the best path to forget

we are in chains because we lost the bet

span.jajahWrapper { font-size:1em; color:#B11196; text-decoration:underline; } a.jajahLink { color:#000000; text-decoration:none; } span.jajahInLink:hover { background-color:#B11196; }

listening in january

trumpets that echo vainly in the grey

chilly slow moving winter afternoon

call to us hiding each in our cocoon

we want to turn from all the good they say

claim that the messenger’s another loon

trumpets that echo vainly in the grey

do not inform us of a better day

that is our import we see no true boon

in their loud signal they have come too soon

trumpets that echo vainly in the grey

span.jajahWrapper { font-size:1em; color:#B11196; text-decoration:underline; } a.jajahLink { color:#000000; text-decoration:none; } span.jajahInLink:hover { background-color:#B11196; }

auld lang syne

this is the place where all shadows begin

beneath the broken house and greenskin tree

i walk just out of tune but hope to win

the colours do not change from out to in

and red leaves on the hedge were meant to be

this is the place where all shadows begin

a moment here when the world does not spin

as all the signs of what we are agree

i walk just out of tune but hope to win

who knows those watching might forbear to grin

as no time passing they must pause to see

this is the place where all shadows begin

that which was lost was made to seem a sin

by falling off and scattering debris

i walk just out of tune but hope to win

those who have heard know what this life has been

in all its echoes and the space left free

this is the place where all shadows begin

i walk just out of tune but hope to win

age of war

we tell ourselves so many foolish lies

about the past and who and what we are

reducing every symbol to a scar

and so becoming what we most despise

our only truths appear in deep disguise

as if reality has turned bizarre

or we had lost sight of our guiding star

and all the world become strange to our eyes

vision’s enhanced by what we seem to fear

as bearing us right past the edge of pain

as what we learn is given proper shape

so much we find when no one else will hear

the honest word nor see what seems most plain

instead they moan that life is one more rape

Virtual Tourism in a Floating Paradise

John Maxwell

The Port Authority of Jamaica is clearly one of Jamaica’s most sophisticated public entities; they even appear to have a vice-president in charge of delivering bad news. This gentleman, Mr Pat Belinfanti was quoted round the world, according to Google, about 34,000 times two weeks ago as saying ‘Jamaica suspends port expansion, blames economy’.

Papers as diverse as the Seattle Times, the International Herald Tribune and the Taiwan News reported that ” Jamaica is suspending plans for a multimillion-dollar expansion of a popular tourist port in Kingston because no one wants to finance it.”

I was bemused by the mention of a ‘popular tourist port in Kingston’ since I couldn’t figure out where such a place might be.

Here is the core of the story:

“A spokesman for the island’s port authority says the $122 million project at the Kingston Wharf will be pushed back one year. Pat Belinfanti says construction might start in 2011.

He said Friday that several international banks backed off, citing the global financial crisis after initially saying they might finance the project.

The development would include construction of duty-free shops and a renovation of the nearby Port Royal town as a cruise ship destination.”

The figure of US$122 million appeared to indicate that what might actually have been zapped was the monstrous Falmouth Cruise ship facility Phase One of the Human Zoo planned for Trelawny. The rest of the story appearing to be simply journalistic confetti, scattered to deflect the anti=spin missiles of the foreign press. No such luck.

What is admirable about the Port Authority is that, like their paragon, the UDC (Ultimate Devastation Conglomerate) they gallantly refuse to take no for an answer and like the Light Brigade, will continue charging into the jaws of death, into the gates of hell, if only to deliver their latest press release or to try to borrow even more money while they cannot service their current debt, incurred while no one was looking.

What really seems to have happened is that the Port Authority has recently suffered some serious financial setbacks and is in the process of drawing in its horns.

In the Gleaner of Dec 11  a story written by Arthur Hall says “The worldwide financial meltdown has started to hit Jamaica’s ports, delaying one major project and causing some international financiers to shy away from another.

In addition, there has been a 15 per cent decline in domestic cargo moving through the ports since August. A noisily trumpeted 5 year contract with Maersk, the world’s largest shipping line (2005) disintegrated before the contract was even halfway done.

Chairman of the Port Authority of Jamaica, Noel Hylton, said plans to begin the expansion of the transshipment port in the Fort Augusta area of St Catherine in 2010 have been shelved, with the project now slated to begin a year later.”

Reality is clearly setting in this area. In another area I am not so sure. Arthur Hall’s story says that the high cost of capital may also  be damaging the immediate prospects of the amazing proposed cruise shipping pier in Falmouth where the PA needs $US122 million to seal the deal

As the world’s risk takers sprint for the exits, Jamaica’s gallant Port Authority stands unfazed :  “we have about eight banks which have indicated a willingness to offer financing,” Hylton said; “The question of getting the financing is not the problem for us … The problem is the cost of the financing and in today’s world, financing costs can be very high,” said Hylton.

You can say that again, but you shouldn’t need to. Jamaica has lots of experience with usury. (Eight banks!)

Why anyone should consider destroying Falmouth has never been clear to me, especially to replace it with the Disneyfied monstrosity proposed by the Port Authority in cahoots with Royal Caribbean. Everything is being done at a very high level of course and environmentally concerned people like us just need to shut up and take our medicine.

The medicine is going to be potent. While parliamentary committees gave been reassured that Falmouth will be no danger to the cruise shipping industry, no such guarantees have been given to the  Jamaican hoteliers whose customers regard Jamaica as the attraction. Continue reading

midwinter

no place to hide it seems from all this cold
just northern sun and wind without warm rain
to ease our judgment of the season’s gain
or loss of simple sense in what was told
by no firm purpose or strong will to hold
as true or wise while light makes all so plain
under the grey that is not quite a bane
to our disloyal hearts that are not bold
justice requires that we add up the tale
of many ages in a small black book
in which clear note shall constantly be kept
while eyes examine all the facts that fail
to measure up as beauty when we look
and heart acknowledge that the world has slept

nothing but shipwreck

nothing but shipwreck is the complete tale
from sunrise to sunset and then again
we rise never to triumph but to fail

all humanity fits here in small scale
from the bahamas right down to cayenne
nothing but shipwreck is the complete tale

our story is the oldest human wail
our fate is limited by a hard pen
we rise never to triumph but to fail

you would not think any of us were frail
and yet we seem the weakest sort of men
nothing but shipwreck is the complete tale

set down in writing in such great detail
the complete record lies within our ken
we rise to never triumph but to fail

the hurricane will tear the largest sail
and end the voyage with a last amen
nothing but shipwreck is the complete tale
we rise never to triumph but to fail

span.jajahWrapper { font-size:1em; color:#B11196; text-decoration:underline; } a.jajahLink { color:#000000; text-decoration:none; } span.jajahInLink:hover { background-color:#B11196; }

what came

what came at the beginning was mistake
words uttered by a fool and said in haste
that altered nothing and were soon erased
the wisest turning swiftly to a flake
meanings unclear and symbols made opaque
by those whose urgencies had been debased
so early on now we think it bad taste
all that is left of truth a distant ache
only the wind recalls what might have passed
simple exposure to a world of joy
a door now closed forever to our thought
as into silences our hopes are cast
we watch as others the last goods destroy
and wish them happiness with what they’ve caught

span.jajahWrapper { font-size:1em; color:#B11196; text-decoration:underline; } a.jajahLink { color:#000000; text-decoration:none; } span.jajahInLink:hover { background-color:#B11196; }

listening

this is the secret spoken into night

by children and old men so many times

watching as yellow moonbeam slowly climbs

along the wall and thinking chances slight

that in the morning matters will go right

each painful turn as distant town bell chimes

provides an early punishment for crimes

not yet committed now that is our plight

what we expect is some sort of return

to better understanding of our hearts

when the sun rises from the winter deep

with all the force with which a man might yearn

for kinder days and all our human arts

brought to effect these are the thoughts we keep

span.jajahWrapper { font-size:1em; color:#B11196; text-decoration:underline; } a.jajahLink { color:#000000; text-decoration:none; } span.jajahInLink:hover { background-color:#B11196; }

The Wealth of the Poor

John Maxwell

It starts, as everything does, in the slums. These are high-class English slums, though, where Mrs Thatcher and her acolytes have been able to prove that when the state abandons its responsibilities there is indeed, no such thing as ‘Society”

Despite this, judges are still willing to sentence teenagers to jail sentences longer than they have been alive, and to denounce said teenagers for their “brutality and cowardice and lack of discipline, training and honour”. In an exquisitely oxymoronic Thatcherism, people deprived of their rights and their dignity by the state are to be punished by the state for their depravity.

In Britain, in Liverpool this week an 18 year old boy, disturbed, dysfunctional and the product of a dysfunctional social and economic background, was sentenced to 22 years in jail for murder. The teenager had been trying to shoot one of his teenage  enemies and hit an 11 year old innocent in error.

Fortunately, it was not Jamaica, or we would have had street-dancing to celebrate another death sentence. Continue reading

of the kingdom of darkness

the empire’s ghost sits crowned upon its grave
obedience is a habit and we bow
the mind and not the body is the slave

there was no wise tradition left to save
so it was easy our weak hearts to cow
the empire’s ghost sits crowned upon its grave

its reedy music now the voice of knave
and thieving blackbird its nest will endow
the mind and not the body is the slave

to serve and cringe while holy fools will rave
of sacred duties we can’t disavow
the empire’s ghost sits crowned upon its grave

we bend our heads and study to behave
the proper way since we have learned just how
the mind and not the body is the slave

to pains and pleasures we’ve been made to crave
just so we bend and pull the heavy plough
the empire’s ghost sits crowned upon its grave
the mind and not the body is the slave

span.jajahWrapper { font-size:1em; color:#B11196; text-decoration:underline; } a.jajahLink { color:#000000; text-decoration:none; } span.jajahInLink:hover { background-color:#B11196; }

of commonwealth

 

against this massive force no one could dare

raise single hand or malign cause renew

we come together out of more than fear

 

this is a strength that will divide and share

will cut the cord as well as turn the screw

against this massive force no one could dare

 

utter a word we have the might to spare

or to destroy to break up or to glue

we come together out of more than fear

 

the leopard has to lie down with the hare

that sort of thing is proper not undue

against this massive force no one would dare

 

make their small challenge for we can declare

triumph complete with no more ballyhoo

we come together out of more than fear

 

our voices speak command over the air

our craft control wherever we can view

against this massive force no one would dare

we come together out of more than fear

of man

our brothers are the crocodile and fox
who see the world as made up of their prey
hope fled this place and dwells among the rocks

the shepherds fled and left to us their flocks
and they grow scrawnier and waste away
our brothers are the crocodile and fox

not for us here the tyranny of clocks
our kingdom is a place of joy and play
hope fled this place and dwells among the rocks

waiting to see what else is in the box
and what new lies we will think up to say
our brothers are the crocodile and fox

we can’t take more of their assaults and shocks
before we fall into complete decay
hope fled this place and dwells among the rocks

a monster listens and then loudly mocks
since any that would win must first betray
our brothers are the crocodile and fox
hope fled this place and dwells among the rocks

span.jajahWrapper { font-size:1em; color:#B11196; text-decoration:underline; } a.jajahLink { color:#000000; text-decoration:none; } span.jajahInLink:hover { background-color:#B11196; }

of a xtian commonwealth

sacred police watch every word we send
to keep us safe they tell us as they strike
so we must pray or at the least pretend

into the background each one has to blend
no hostile sound should ever reach the mike
sacred police watch every word we send

there is no one on whom we can depend
into each back they’ll gladly shove the spike
so we must pray or at the least pretend

to be the ones who their message will vend
as gospel to the rich and poor alike
sacred police watch every word we send

we have to note each new official trend
who is in charge and who will take a hike
so we must pray or at the least pretend

that we are pleased to thank and to commend
the masters of this everlasting reich
sacred police watch every word we send
so we must pray or at the least pretend

span.jajahWrapper { font-size:1em; color:#B11196; text-decoration:underline; } a.jajahLink { color:#000000; text-decoration:none; } span.jajahInLink:hover { background-color:#B11196; }

Investors in limbo

JOHN MAXWELL
Sunday, December 14, 2008

There is one fault line in American life that not even Barack Obama can heal; it is the chasm between those who believe OJ Simpson killed his wife and those who don’t.

I must make it clear at once that I don’t believe OJ did it.
My reason is simple: I cannot imagine anyone, having just butchered two people, being able to make himself and his house presentable within an hour or so of the bloody killings, and then embarking on an aeroplane flight halfway across the United States, leaving his house open to be searched by any police force – even one as incompetent as the Keystone Kops of the Los Angeles Police.

In the days they had to examine Simpson’s house the LAPD could not find one single piece of incriminating evidence – nothing to connect Simpson to the crime. To rid his house of bloodstained clothing and any trace of incriminating DNA in an hour is beyond the capacities, I believe, of even highly trained decontamination experts and, in my view, stratospherically out of reach to a booby like Simpson.

Only an innocent booby could have dared to write a book speculating how he could have committed the murders of his wife and her friend Ron Goldman. And only a booby would not have realised that there was something very odd about the expedition he was persuaded to lead to recover his property from a Las Vegas hotel room.

The Goldman and Brown families, who obviously hate Simpson from the word go, have never wavered in their belief that OJ was the killer. They know, and like all fundamentalists their knowledge is absolute, immanent and incontrovertible.

They have managed to trap Simpson twice, with two hand-picked juries – getting a wrongful death civil verdict against Simpson and now, getting him jailed on the most obviously rigged evidence in proceedings which I would think do not dignify even such a state as Nevada.

It all came out in the wash. The gang behind Simpson, including the lone gunman, have all got away more or less scot-free. The goat, Simpson, will probably spend the rest of his life in jail if a real court cannot be found to end this travesty of justice.
If people are to be jailed because they are fools, the world would clearly have more people in jail than outside. OJ Simpson will die for their sins.

OJ’s sin was that he ‘wanted to live like a white man’, according to Newsweek at the time, a capital offence on the same order as Saddam Hussein’s pretensions. The difference, of course, was that Saddam actually killed people, like some other leaders more powerful than he.

I really don’t believe that Simpson killed anyone. But to say this is extremely unfashionable.

Entitlements

John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson both believed that black people had been so historically disadvantaged that a century after the abolition of slavery, some reparation in kind would be only just. They were persuaded in this by the advocacy of the Civil Rights Movement of the ’60s and Affirmative Action was one result. Affirmative Action was designed to help all of the oppressed, women, ethnic minorities and other politically handicapped classes to get to a position where they could compete on approximately level terms with those who had historically enjoyed privileges out of the reach of ordinary people.

In the ’80s and ’90s, after the Reagan revolution, it became an article of faith that welfare subsidies – standard in most civilised countries – were in the United States a means to give excessive privilege to women and blacks, especially to the poorest. Mr Bush’s so-called Justice Department actually entered appearance as a friend of the court in a celebrated case five years ago on the ground that using quotas to determine ethnic diversity in universities was unconstitutional and breached the right to equal protection under the law.

In capitalist society, of course, inequality is built into the system. Some are owners and others are workers. In the development of the market system in the US, however, some workers are clearly more equal than others. Over the past 50 years some white-collar workers have captured the commanding heights of corporations, and the owners, the stockholders, have been relegated to being bit players in their own productions. With the departure of the first entrepreneurs, the second and third generations of owners have become spectators as professional “managers” have taken control of the corporations and have enriched themselves beyond the dreams of commonplace avarice. They pay themselves bonuses in the millions whether their companies are booming or failing.

This week one of the Napoleons of the new capitalism demanded a bonus of $10 million after 11 months as chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch, perhaps the most famous financial services company in the world. John Thain’s basic compensation is about $15 million a year, and in the time that he has been with Merrill, the company became the most high-profile casualty of the current financial disaster, having to be rescued in a takeover by the Bank of America financed by the government of the United States.

Despite this disaster, or perhaps because of it, Thain seemed to believe he was entitled to some super profit. The immediate howl from newspapers, bloggers and others appeared to have persuaded him to withdraw his claim. Thain and others like him are the people most vociferous in attacking the wicked trade unions, particularly the United Autoworkers whose members are derided as parasites battening on poor, helpless companies like General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. Suddenly the US press has begun to examine the claims against the unions and have discovered that the imaginary millionaires of the UAW are paid just a little more than the non-unionised workers in the American factories of Toyota and Honda. They have discovered that it isn’t the unions that are responsible for the state of the US auto industry, but the exorbitantly paid bosses, still building cars for the fifties while the Japanese and Europeans are building cars people actually want to buy.

The government’s rescue of the auto industry will bring some unlooked-for changes in US motor vehicle manufacture. Congress and Barack Obama are thought to want more environmentally friendly cars. They also want the manufacturers to change their focus to include railway engines and other forms of public transportation. When the taxpayer owns GM, life for everybody will be very different.

Unlike wealthy countries like Messrs Golding’s and Shaw’s Jamaica, the US will soon confront a future in which private transportation will be a luxury.

Another world

In Jamaica important facts surface briefly like drowning fish in Kingston Harbour, never to be heard from again. While Mr Golding was busy backing the Spanish hotel developers it was reported almost by the way:

“The project is receiving funding of US$100 million from Spanish investors and US$80 million from Jamaica’s National Commercial Bank and will provide employment for more than 1,000 Jamaicans at a time when other hotel projects, including Trelawny’s multi-billion-dollar Harmony Cove and the 2,000-room Excellence Group rest in limbo.(http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20081207/lead/lead2.html)

Resting in limbo, indeed. And this despite the enormous sums of Jamaican taxpayers’ money spent on the expensive physical infrastructure for these Arabian nights fantasies.

The problem is that all the super-fancy resort developments are in trouble or will be soon. They are facing the double whammy of worldwide tight credit and an evaporating high-end consumer market. I confidently expect to hear that the monstrous cruise ship, Oasis of the Seas, is on hold, to be followed by immediate comfort statements from Jamaica telling us all not to worry: Falmouth will be destroyed anyway.

David Jessop asked last week what we are going to do now that the British and the Europeans are imposing new taxes on air travel to faraway places like the Caribbean, designed to slash the effect of aviation on global warming.

We are not planning any responses to these disasters, depending instead on rescue by Brazilian investors in ethanol – food for cars – when we need to get people to plant backyard food gardens and transform idle sugar land to growing food. I pointed out a few years ago that, on acreage equal to that of Monymusk – one of the smallest Jamaican sugar estates – farmers in Florida were producing US$60 million worth of citrus. We are clearly too advanced for anything like that.

We will, of course, be able to eat bauxite.

Copyright 2008 John Maxwell
jankunnu@gmail.com

span.jajahWrapper { font-size:1em; color:#B11196; text-decoration:underline; } a.jajahLink { color:#000000; text-decoration:none; } span.jajahInLink:hover { background-color:#B11196; }

mercenary

no need to mention all that has been told

those sighs that pass when so much has been said

to fill not time but worlds entire with dread

but this belongs they tell us to the old

not those who in those ranks have been enrolled

to fight hard battles for a little bread

not wondering what happens to the dead

nor why they take such risks for tawdry gold

now we must ask for mercy and receive

what gifts we can and hope for something more

while there is light right here where no dogs bark

as the earth turns while soft voices deceive

and not so gently we are shown the door

and told to take our guerdon in the dark

span.jajahWrapper { font-size:1em; color:#B11196; text-decoration:underline; } a.jajahLink { color:#000000; text-decoration:none; } span.jajahInLink:hover { background-color:#B11196; }

span.jajahWrapper { font-size:1em; color:#B11196; text-decoration:underline; } a.jajahLink { color:#000000; text-decoration:none; } span.jajahInLink:hover { background-color:#B11196; }

simple truth

we reach for magic
and finding it we must fall
yet so much glory

span.jajahWrapper { font-size:1em; color:#B11196; text-decoration:underline; } a.jajahLink { color:#000000; text-decoration:none; } span.jajahInLink:hover { background-color:#B11196; }

areopagitica

 

words in daylight uttered without least dread

have not the echo of the chilly dark

when into emptiness we might embark

look up right now and see the bird is sped

that bore the message and now in its stead

we’re left to kindle one remaining spark

this morning when the trees are bare and stark

knowing so many words were left unsaid

some might expect a choice but if we feign

not to give in but to attempt the height

would laugh to see us fail to reach the stars

rather they’d say the clouds will promise rain

a storm is coming and behind it night

yet here we stand on the green hill of mars

semaphore

 

signals that are delayed upon the hill

remind us of a time when we were young

and many discords were cheerily sung

 

we face the future with uncertain will

our hopes have been sent out today among

signals that are delayed upon the hill

 

there was no reason to receive a thrill

from any touch of human hand or tongue

instead we found that other folk had hung

signals that are delayed upon the hill

spiritual healing

 

there is no meaning written on the blue

we ask and ask yet there is no reply

we make things up and claim that they are true

 

no certainties are left the world’s askew

all we’ve been told turns out to be a lie

there is no meaning written on the blue

 

there is no need for any ballyhoo

nor reason to praise those who are so sly

we make things up and claim that they are true

 

it does not matter if we change the view

or claim that evil comes to those who pry

there is no meaning written on the blue

 

we kept no secrets from the bird that flew

above our heads it merely passed us by

we make things up and claim that they are true

 

you think that your discoveries are new

yet they are old and rotten and so dry

there is no meaning written on the blue

we make things up and claim that they are true

The People are the Change

 

 

 

John Maxwell

 

I’m sure it is possible to second guess Barack Obama.

I’m sure it is possible to outrun Usain Bolt.

I’m pretty certain I won’t be around to witness either event.

The real value of Barack Obama is the fact that millions of people round the world have incorporated Obama into their own dreams, almost into their own personas.

After the foul miasma of the last few years has begun to clear it was almost inevitable that when our most outlandish wish came true, against all the odds, we would bundle all our hopes and aspirations into the skinny kid with the funny name who spoke of change as if it were important and –  that he meant what he said.

In this atmosphere of swirling myth and springtime tears, it is easy to forget Bismarck’s apothegm: politics is the art of the possible. “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable – the art of the next best” said the founder of Germany; John Kenneth Galbraith’s apparent dismissal of Bismarck is in fact a confirmation -“Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.”

Thousands of bloggers and people supposedly learned in the craft of politics, have been having conniptions because Barack Obama has not chosen to break out of the American political system in some revolutionary expedition to wipe all slates clean and to dry every tear.

Obama, like Lincoln and Roosevelt before him, or Bismarck himself or Fidel Castro or Jean Bertrand Aristide – is not a freak of nature but the perfectly logical crystallisation of his people’s dreams. And these dreams have always been various, coalitions of desire which can never be wholly fulfilled because some are always at odds with others. The most fundamental ideals of all,  Freedom and Liberty, mean many different things to any different people. Harmonising these contradictions in the interest of the greater good is the essence of what we call politics.

Some pundits have declared that in choosing Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates and Lawrence Summers among others, Obama has sold out. Sold out to the past, to the Clintons, to the status quo.

They don’t understand Obama – who does? – and they don’t understand politics.

In the American presidential system it is the President who makes policy: foreign policy and domestic policy, social policy and economic. When a President Obama assembles a team he is choosing people who understand  that the US has one President at a time – even when that President is as totally unfitted for the position as was George Bush. I am not being wise after the event: I said so when Bush was about to be appointed to the job by the US Supreme Court.

As I wrote almost exactly 8 years ago, on Friday December 8, 2000 in a column published in this paper on December 10, two days later:

” Most of us still  know nothing about what is going on [in Florida's Supreme Court] of course, because our media is too busy congratulating itself to notice the titanic struggle taking place an hour’s flying time from Kingston. Like the people of the United States, we have been carefully screened from the truth. The real George Bush, if he is appointed President, will use his time to destroy the integrity of the country he rules, starting with the Supreme Court. Then he can start on dealing with  the rest of us.  That’s his job, and as the American Press has made plain, nothing needs to be known about him and his  multifarious incapacities because Big Brother in the giant corporations will tell him what to do. We are all in a for a very rough ride.”

We’ve had the ride, and I forecast some of that too, in the same column:

‘The approaching triumph of Greenspan/Ayn Rand capitalism may just be slowed down by the latest developments in the US economy, but that is not cooling down the ardour of the ‘Cognitive Elite’ to gain a handle on the whole business of corporate control of the economies and governance of the world. ‘

 

Some of us find it really easy to forget unpleasant experience particularly at the hands of someone we were told to trust.  This forgetfulness  allows us to survive all kinds of horrors, but makes it difficult to appreciate just how far the world has travelled since November 4, and how much farther we have to travel.

If we have really observed Obama we might have noticed that he is a man who writes his own script and that he likes to stick to that script, because he knows it makes sense. And he understands too that the best leaders make the best followers, because, more than most, they understand what is to be done. And in Obama they have a leader who they know, from personal experience, is not easily diverted and not willing to surrender his mandate to anyone,

Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s most significant triumph will, I predict, be in Palestine, followed by Darfur, Cuba and Haiti. Just as the anti-communist Republican Richard Nixon was peculiarly qualified to come to terms with China, so, I believe will Hillary Clinton find it possible to secure in the Middle East the peace that Obama wants and the world thirsts for. Barack Obama’s grandfather was tortured by the British in Kenya on suspicion of being tied to Mau Mau. It will be impossible for Obama, with his history, to condemn any people or nation to be the chattels of any other nation.

Even in the highly unlikely event that Mrs Clinton wished to design her own foreign policy she would find it impossible in a Cabinet that also includes Joseph Biden, Bill Richardson and Susan Rice, Obama’s ambassador to the UN. These people know how the world works and they all understand as Bush never did, that the United Sates needs, especially at this juncture, to work with the world.

Great orchestras often contain several maestros, but their pride is in the music they collectively produce under a great conductor. But the same orchestra can sound quite different with another great conductor. Continue reading

those who give most

 

those who give most are those who feel most hurt

when life itself is turned into a jest

by those to whom no greeting is addressed

but who have some old anger to assert

you might not think there’s much that could divert

this river from its course but being pressed

we find that those who act do so with zest

and leave us panting sadly in the dirt

these are the signals that we did not see

sent to the ones who most wanted to learn

just how to fight and make a better home

without distinction of form or degree

some things it turns out we just have to earn

and it is easier to stay than roam

proud refusal


a single maple leaf is hanging on
in dumb defiance of the dying year
on this calm street the autumn’s plain and drear

this change of seasons is time’s greatest con
from bright and colourful to deadly sere
a single maple leaf is hanging on

age teaches us to reach a rapprochement
with all those forces in their fast career
that push us forward but one thing is clear
a single maple leaf is hanging on

a pyrrhic tale

 

we reach the boundary and cannot cross
so much of what we need is left behind
we paid for victory with greater loss

those are the symbols which we have to toss
into the bin and cast them from each mind
we reach the boundary and cannot cross

into the pleasant meadows there’s no gloss
to this clear meaning life is never kind
we paid for victory with greater loss

than we expected we received the dross
instead of gold and that is the true bind
we reach the boundary and cannot cross

the one who lost might now become the boss
in the hot quandary through which we find
we paid for victory with greater loss

the dry-stone wall turns green now with the moss
of centuries forgotten by the blind
we reach the boundary and cannot cross
we paid for victory with greater loss

no need to explain

 

so foolish words and actions will run deep

enough to make a stolid watcher cry

in honest pain at the uncaring sky

while to their lairs the hungry roaches creep

leaving behind mere messes in a heap

to irritate the nose and scar the eye

of any dumb enough to pass right by

this haunts the mind even when fast asleep

no one who knows the facts dares to insist

that you remain unmoved by the desire

expressed within the heart before each death

as the proud victim falls beneath the fist

to seem more worthy of the butcher’s hire

than those that simply feared to lose their breath

taking stock

 

after long shadow an uncertain light

shows wintry forest and a frosty town

but we are grateful for the end of night

 

dawn brings us matters that do not delight

the legacy of knave and fool and clown

after long shadow an uncertain light

 

nor are the guilty shame-faced or contrite

rather they think they still deserve renown

but we are grateful for the end of night

 

hope holds her breath for chances are so slight

yet no one thinks that we should talk them down

after long shadow an uncertain light

 

the criminal declares that he was right

to let the storm-wracked take their chance and drown

but we are grateful for the end of night

 

what we are left with is the thought of blight

as futures close and each has cause to frown

after long shadow an uncertain light

but we are grateful for the end of night

boundary of time

 

a single moment and we see the shade

vanish abruptly as the sun appears

night seems to caution but the new day cheers

 

towards the west late birds head in parade

nobody with their movement interferes

a single moment and we see the shade

 

some other meaning must have been conveyed

in all the gathering of daily cares

just as we note the changing of the airs

a single moment and we see the shade

wet sunday morning

 

once past the dark the bronze and gold hold sway

in this half-light the kingdom of the rain

what we name silver is a brighter grey

 

no one is certain on this sort of day

but would not venture to speak nor complain

once past the dark the bronze and gold hold sway

 

there are no shadows that is what we say

in the damp woods the leaf-mould leaves its stain

what we name silver is a brighter grey

 

with its cold hand the passing storm will slay

dry heat of summer and tie winter’s chain

once past the dark the bronze and gold h old sway

 

beneath loose dirt is nothing but hard clay

red as the rust that wants to claim its reign

what we name silver is a brighter grey

 

it is no use to shout or disobey

the dull commands of human body’s pain

once past the dark the bronze and gold hold sway

what we name silver is a brighter grey

The Human Zoo

 


John Maxwell

 

There is an ancient joke about an American tourist being shepherded round Europe on a package tour, collecting places without ever experiencing them. One morning his wife asked him: “Where are we? His bemused answer:  ‘If this is Tuesday this must be Paris.’

The cruise ship business is even more soulless than the land based package tour. Cruise ships are floating amusement parks designed to delude you into believing that you are taking part  in  a mind expanding experience – travelling to foreign countries to partake of the local culture. In fact the stops in the various islands of convenience are basically to buy cheap water and to allow the crew a day to clean the ship and make it ready for the next day of cruising and boozing and goofing off at great expense. Continue reading

from the first echo

 

from the first echo of the shout of doom

there was a sense that time itself would lend

the means by which those who could best attend

would start by emptying each cluttered room

in the clear daylight no dull weight of gloom

would keep us back nor hold us from that end

which in our hearts we have to comprehend

the universe is not truly a womb

name what we suffer and it does not die

there are no magics here nor ever were

faith cannot work to save us from our fate

it always seems that we desire the lie

want one more moment simply to confer

upon ourselves the burden of deep hate

when mosquitoes come

 

at sunset when mosquitoes come to play

their urgent buzzing games of sucking blood

the darkness comes upon us like a flood

we long for cleansing light of the next day

behind the net there is not much to say

outside the frogs are croaking in the mud

a misplaced word falls now with heavy thud

this is the season when thought goes astray

smoke blends with fog in the short humid night

as all our measures pause within the heat

not one is certain and they all seem wrong

in their slow circle all the clouds move right

over the mountains to a steady beat

and deep within each heart there is a song

time for a change

 

your duty is to serve without a pause

those who are worse than you and who must hurt

your heart and soul and give you justest cause

to overturn them and cast into dirt

all of their forces you must disconcert

those who expect that you are just a pawn

who do not think that you get your desert

night lasts its time but the earth turns to dawn

 

the ones who always get loudest applause

are those who in their way have to assert

entitlement both to tears and guffaws

it takes you little effort to exert

your claim to justice that is not covert

against a force that is not soon withdrawn

it is no easy matter to assert

night lasts its time but the earth turns to dawn

 

we find it written in a complex clause

that scholars have no reason to pervert

reason is subject to no human laws

we must to basic principles revert

and from its course the evil power divert

by dint of honesty as well as brawn

until the force of terror lies inert

night lasts its time but the earth turns to dawn

 

prince we are flattered you have not been curt

and have not chosen our hopes to subvert

these are the times when hopes are not yet gone

we might with many choices have to flirt

night lasts its time but the earth turns to dawn

ballade of doubt

 

no one will think an error self-corrects

blind folk see better than those who have led

our startled crew and learned from the effects

that it were better if they all had bled

completely flat and nothing more were said

it being time now to express true rage

and letting no kind words the mood assuage

we will not let the hero get the blame

it is our duty now to set the stage

before we pass into the final flame

 

the kind of man who his own thought collects

might think that there was time to prevent dread

but he who speaks knows best what he expects

when facing those who he with lies has fed

at the right moment when the world turns red

he has learned swiftly their weak minds to gauge

and shows himself to them as king and sage

while not revealing the whole thing is a game

there’s no defence monocyte macrophage

before we pass into the final flame

 

you might have thought of these human defects

as bringing matters to a stirring head

but not a one here fact with fact connects

or sorts the clearly living from the dead

all are just here to earn a little bread

make some small money collect daily wage

for that alone they would their time engage

you might think that a kind of mortal shame

it’s not their task to answer your hard gage

before we pass into the final flame

 

prince you might wonder at these things backstage

but they’re the matter of our dying age

we say the words and give the facts a frame

but that’s no more than simple persiflage

before we pass into the final flame

royal command

 

to mete out magics is no complex task

a sterner duty comes to try the heart

we leave the hangman to his gentle art

and do not hear the hungry when they ask

for dryest crumbs nor grant drops from the flask

compassion is not what we would call smart

just fling the bodies on the diggers’ cart

and do not seek to look behind the mask

so many lies and all upon the page

that  hide plain fact behind a scrim of glare

we would not have you see the world entire

as simple subject for your honest rage

nor yet as calling forth a word of rage

respectful silence now until the fire

so much for balance

 

narrow the vision and a world’s unseen

withhold the names and much is left unsaid

a simple thing but so easy to dread

you learn the facts and then you are not keen

to face what is to come the things that mean

not merely change but that you were misled

by a false light and too soon will be dead

to all that mattered and will leave the scene

this altered light suffices to inform

our surging hearts of the firm pace of time

just as our eyes catch sight of the grim bird

that circles slowly just before the storm

clear testament to what had been a crime

that speaks as loudly as a human word

night-walker’s song

 

so now this clarity in unflawed glass

allows a truth that we must never bend

these are the days that far too swiftly pass

 

you’d challenge what is said just for its brass

words that would hurt but had no warmth to mend

so now this clarity in unflawed glass

 

not clear to us the road through the morass

nor what to do to change the downward trend

these are the days that far too swiftly pass

 

leaving us with no grace but drying grass

and sullen folk who will not comprehend

so now this clarity in unflawed glass

 

the wisest one looks foolish on his ass

nor will the servile bother to pretend

these are the days that far too swiftly pass

 

into the memory of the tardy class

as one more message that we cannot send

so now this clarity in unflawed glass

these are the days that far too swiftly pass

what has been seen

 

fractions and fragments broken on the head

of tiny knowledge things that have been turned

between swift signals when the court adjourned

throwing us out into the wider dread

of rotting time and weeds in the rose-bed

such were the wages which our fear had earned

in the dry season while the forest burned

you spoke and no one heard a thing you said

justice requires a citizen must pay

for all the pleasures and the sins of state

since honour’s lash is straightforward and harsh

this rule is clear there are no shades of grey

nor compromises on the road to fate

just noisy birds that call out on the marsh

human veins

 

knowing the hour must mean we know the place

where justice meets with anger and they ride

the horse of pain this is where heroes stride

in open season none would fear disgrace

since not a one would dare bow or abase

his own deep need before the other side

there is a proper setting for true pride

where understanding gives each monster space

between the echoes we might hear a word

conveyed with clarity and given due force

by those whose task it is simply to speak

of matters complex and of the absurd

conditions under which we chide the weak

obliging them to step out of the course

a simple matrix

 

those who mean well end up not knowing much

our very reason in the end rebels

at what are simple but resounding yells

 

we cannot reach and so we have to clutch

before calm force absorbs or else impels

those who mean well end up not knowing much

 

we watch the ball bounce hard right out of touch

our ears are deafened by the warning bells

nothing remains but what we hope excels

those who mean well end up not knowing much

so now change

 

the autumn flower’s not delicate of kind

but sturdy growth is what we most desire

a stunning smile then winter’s stern attire

we must take on these are the goods we find

as times grow stern to our hard tasks we bind

so many wishes and we hope the choir

sings just as clearly as the days require

for all our visions now have left us blind

so much that’s good has passed out of plain sight

into the dust where we cannot recall

just how to make what should matter suffice

but now fresh day has come out of the night

and there’s no reason for a soul to stall

while double sixes come up on the dice

out past the blue

 

to reach the realm that lies beyond the sun

takes so much effort that most folk will fold

their angry hands and let their eyes grow cold

tell you their patience long ago was done

you have to finish before you’ve begun

and understand the lies you have been told

it is too hard these days to be true bold

and reach out past the stars just for the fun

what good is given we shall have to take

not with a smile but with a steady look

just so each knows the proper word to say

the world we leave is easy to forsake

and much is written in the golden book

but that is matter for a calmer day

Foolish Virgins & the Wrath to Come

 

 

John Maxwell

 

Eighty years ago the giant American company, General Motors decided on a strategy to sell cars, not Just to sell cars but to convert first the United States into an automobile owning democracy. ‘Automobile’ – a heavy and clumsy word, conveyed subtle hints of free range, autonomy and capitalist self determination. ‘Car’ – on the other hand was redolent of old fashioned modes of transport like street cars and railway cars all public transportation.

Though it was never put in these terms, automobiles would be the motive power behind leaving the herd and joining the rat race.

Beginning in the twenties, GM conducted widespread PR campaigns against public transportation, particularly aimed at getting streetcars – trams – off the roads. streetcars, buses and trains were limiting to personal mobility GM said.  Although no one had noticed those limitations before, GM was selling the idea that cars were the ticket to the wide open spaces of America, although few roads then existed to get to those wide open spaces and there wasn’t much to be done there, except for hikers, nature-lovers and gangsters looking for places to dump dead bodies.

General Motors, through a dummy corporation, began buying up tramways and shutting them down on the ground that they were old fashioned, slow and got in the way of cars. in collusion with Standard Oil of California and Firestone (tyres) GM bought the largest makers of buses in the US so that public and private transportation would not only be controlled by Detroit but tied to the internal combustion engine.

Americans loved their cars. Some early movies seemed to be more about cars than people and pretty soon the charms of “Chattanooga Choo Choo” were blown away in the exhausts from “Route 66″ where you could get your kicks fleeing dead ends like New York and Boston for the wide open soullessness of Bakersfield Calif or Oklahoma City, which was ‘mighty pretty’.

‘A basketful of King Cobras’

Detroit built automobiles, big, clumsy vehicles with soft suspensions and inefficient engines. In the 1950s writer Tom McCahill reviewed new cars for Mechanix Illustrated magazine though he continually lambasted American automakers for their sloppy suspension and inefficient engines. He once criticised the suspension of Ford’s Edsel as so dangerous that “I wouldn’t own one except with the export kit; without stiffer suspension, a car with so much performance could prove similar to opening a Christmas basket full of King Cobras in a small room with the lights out”.

But McCahill  was also a nationalist and went along with the US auto industry as it defied  commonsense and continued building gas guzzlers. Of course, at that time, gasoline was priced in cents per gallon, not dollars. But California was already beginning to enforce fuel consumption and air pollution standards on cars,  so they can’t say they didn’t know which way the wind was blowing. McCahill did tend to laugh at the small European and Japanese cars which were beginning to nibble at GM’s near monopoly on the US market. Continue reading

ill fares the land

 

you counted golden the worth of your name

now see it tarnished by this acid rain

not generations will remove the stain

of knowing you thought life and death a game

worth playing just so you won greatest fame

while blood and water swirl down every drain

and soldiers’laugh at each new orphan’s pain

you speak of cities that might feel the flame

so fools cry out and call on you for aid

while skies turn darker and rivers run dry

your mighty shadow seems to many blessed

by divine power so you lead the parade

smiling as you’re the focus of each eye

ready to guide us on with massive zest

but not so eager to confront the test

at sight of hardship your star seems to fade

and calls for effort lead your force to die

we ask for help but you won’t make the grade

instead you look down from a brazen sky

as the red sun sinks into furthest west

the journey’s long the hills hard to ascend

but choosing you is something we could mend

human wit

where in the sunlight all the dirt’s dispelled

we take our leave then some will go to sleep

their blankets piled upon them in a heap

while in the forest all the spirits gelled

anticipating that when we excelled

at sport and art the answer would be deep

but nothing holds there’s no place here to keep

our kindnesses the earth itself rebelled

none can permit the law to be denied

 by those who are so bound to a far higher

that their hard hands are in the moment lit

by the illuminations of their pride

the incandescence of a greater fire

than can be understood by human wit

the world goes down

we hit the wall and then the world goes down
into the dark and nothing good returns
for all we’ve done what once was gold is brown

as winter comes like satan into town
all minds are numb just as the river churns
we hit the wall and then the world goes down

a sad destruction but no one will frown
believing that we get what the thief earns
for all we’ve done what once was gold is brown

now skies are darker than a priestly gown
for what one makes the other overturns
we hit the wall and then the world goes down

so no one stands for hope or for renown
but gets instead just what the jackass earns
for all we’ve done what once was gold is brown

this is the truth where hero becomes clown
you have to flee before the city burns
we hit the wall and then the world goes down
for all we’ve done what once was gold is brown

the final mark

here on the boundary of truth and lie

where ordinary magics have their rule

underneath heaven permanently cool

no one escapes nor is allowed to cry

against the judgment of the steely sky

since every human is at last a fool

while failure is the final mark at school

the arrow that will find each weeping eye

all that we know amounts to waste of air

on these strange days when we desire to feel

the urgent courage of our better days

but what we get is new return of care

another revolution of the wheel

and nothing better coming through the haze

the last republic

our hearts with humour and with pain are crammed

the world defies our choices and our rage

in the republic of the wholly damned

 

we spoke and then our thoughts were truly slammed

by those who said that with keen words on page

our hearts with humour and with pain are crammed

 

the metre’s right and the line’s not enjambed

yet all we get is a poor poet’s wage

in the republic of the wholly damned

 

since for the moment the signal’s not jammed

so that the the enemy cannot engage

our hearts with humour and with pain are crammed

 

until they burst and our dead corpses rammed

into the the dullest moments of the age

in the republic of the wholly dammed

 

by those who thought that the most decent shammed

their honest words and strutted on a stage

our hearts with humour and with pain are crammed

in the republic of the wholly dammed

a universal rite

we fall so far that the first sign of light

awakens us to shaking and to pain

not ready but we face it all again

there was no comfort in the arms of night

we got it wrong so gelid is our plight

yet these are things that no one need explain

each is quite normal not a one’s arcane

for suffering’s a universal rite

what each must do is take up the hard load

of human courage as if it were new

and clasp it tightly without much regret

accept that this is one rough stony road

that comes with  sorrow and no good long view

and all is paid with labour and cold sweat

uncertain of our flame

name after name recorded on the wall
a sombre history of the long crime
against us all now fading into time
made by those giants who to us seem small
through urgent years when little could appal
our fervent thoughts when worlds were at their prime
(so we believed) yet we feared the dark slime
that seemed to lurk awaiting our long fall
now it’s the turn of those who would proclaim
a better day and shout it very loud
so even the ancestors could rejoice
but we who are uncertain of our flame
no longer urgent and no more as proud
are not so eager to exalt our voice

uncertain of our flame

name after name recorded on the wall
a sombre history of the long crime
against us all now fading into time
made by those giants who to us seem small
through urgent years when little could appal
our fervent thoughts when worlds were at their prime
(so we believed) yet we feared the dark slime
that seemed to lurk awaiting our long fall
now it’s the turn of those who would proclaim
a better day and shout it very loud
so even the ancestors could rejoice
but we who are uncertain of our flame
no longer urgent and no more as proud
are not so eager to exalt our voice