The Art of the Politician
The wet rain is falling on the road,
just as it did on the day the last war
ended. To mark the losing of the load,
people capered in the puddles and swore
it would never happen again – a curse,
from the look of it, though we live in hope.
Fear trains then trips a twitch (stay calm) and, worse,
breeds poison without an antidote.
I search your ear and run in like mercury
down the smooth, natural canal that tips
into the heart from which you should break free
(Quiet yourself. Remember: read my lips.)
for, you know, too much emotion, my dear,
(I have this on sound advice) will prevent
cool thought from pulsing out loud and clear
and (heaven forbid) that would mar intent.
So go to your castle or your safe home
and prepare in the way that you see fit
and never forget you are not alone
and who it was that dropped you in the shit.
The dry rain is falling on the road
as another war practically begins.
Of course, we hope that nothing will explode
and ask the Lord to forgive us our sins.
Alan Dunnett is a former regional theatre director, whose productions have included Entertaining Mr. Sloane with Gary Oldman (Chesterfield Pomegranate) and the large-scale community play Bridge (Dundee Rep). He now works largely for MA Screen - alumni include Gemma Chan, Rungano Nyoni and Jolyon Rubinstein - at Central Saint Martins, London, where he was its University and College Union branch secretary. His poems have recently appeared in the Communist Review, the anthology Is There a Poem Sweet Enough? (Emmylou Books) available from Campaign Against Arms Trade, Brittle Star and Dead Ink. A chapbook is forthcoming through
The Drunken Boat. Readings at Nottingham, Derby and Bradford Playhouses, Leicester Haymarket,
The Troubadour, The Poetry Cafe, QUAD with Bernard O'Donoghue and C.J. Allen, and on Radio Nottingham and Radio Derby. Last year, he won the Ealing Poetry Competition, judged by George Szirtes. He has published an illustrated poetry collection,
A Third Colour (Culture Matters, 2018).
The Mark of Cain
The Hand of God
Hullo, my mother, don't you recognise me?
You must not think the war is over.
I still care about what I love
and will act accordingly.
I still remember people weeping with joy
at liberation but they were wrong.
I know what I must do and have never
been more certain. The clock waits
for me. I am almost ready.
Please remember me as your true son.
What I do meets approval in the eyes
of those who see. I make the earth move.
Give me a piece of bread and something to drink.
Before I go, I bless this house and all who are in it.
It is in the distance
behind the button shop
closing because the rent's gone up
past the vegan cafe
past the young men
sitting on the steps staring
and you at a window watching
What is my name? Joseph would know.
I left the packet on the floor
in the changing-room of a busy store
because I was told to. It is the right thing.
You too are going past.
Do not shake your head.
You are not Joseph.
There are many hands making light work
of this and all that follows.
If I am not here, it does not matter.
I have no wife, no child, no father or mother.
I hear the normal voices in the street.
What is my name?
I see your lack of understanding
do not get out now
do not know anything
or, rather, go, I will assist
I am here to assist
unlike the others
I ask for no reward.
They say I am the killer
but I have killed no one.
This day, your wrong impression
is no guiding light.
I am the harbinger
not to mention The Way.
What you think counts for nothing
only count the bodies
Every message is misunderstood right now
but that will change.
Men will look back on this time
and nod like wise ones.
Earthquakes and floods are no accidents.
Doom points the finger.
In the arenas, there is applause,
a smiling echo
In retreat, we make no mistake
we are professional
and we will be back
dogs lie in the road.
My mind is made up for me, you say.
You are ignorant.
I decide on the back of The Word
the sword of truth
No second chance.
thistles stretch their prickly arms afar