polemical poetry to prickle the politics of "permanent austerity"
thistles stretch their prickly arms afar
(Love In A Time of Covid)
I turn to face the gurning visage of death,
Firing his darts down my back and left leg.
Entity incubates within my chest and groin,
Upper extremities consumed by
Gorging on hours slurred to wine glass sedation
Bottle uncorked every Friday night to steal
An oracular breath.
All hands upon deck,
All knees to the neck!
“I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe”
Ice-crevasse sweats at the witching hour
As you wake howling from sleep
Into bludgeoned fatigue
Without a top or bottom
A Beginning in search of an End
Jacob’s ladder stabbing your feet.
Town with the wind sucked out.
The centre cannot hold or else has gone AWOL
Abruptly popped dirigible
Pricked by absurdity’s hollow laugh
And all because one furry little mammal fell from its perch
In a market in far-off rising Cathay.
All hail Entropy!
Here I sit in my command module,
Off-white walls foaming their blizzard of nothing.
Shooting a crystal gun through temples
Sterile, clean, privileged, white
Unable to locate the off switch let alone press the ejector seat.
Inoculated against the germs
Imperial Leather and anti-bac our hand maiden’s tales
Each of us now facing our own private Gileads.
Here I sit scrubbing and a rub-a dub-tubbing
While they clappety-clap, bish, bosh and bang,
Hoary-throated, gammon-suckled, beating tin drums
Outside front porches
Freshly swabbed with vinegar
Every Thursday at 8.
Now is the spring of our smug self- content
Made glorious by this festering
Cut-price leg of Great British pork.
Leon Brown was born in Dorset in 1973. Brown's poems have been published in Emergency Verse - Poetry in the Defence of the Welfare State (Caparison, 2011), The Robin Hood Book - Verse Versus Austerity (Caparison, 2012) and on The Recusant.
They know not why but yearn to be part of something.
Despite placing a cross in a ballot
Against a better society last December
Red cross on a nation’s door.
Bring out your dead only when safe to do so.
And don’t forget to starve the poor.
I dimly yearn to be part of nothing
Whoever he is.
Grimly stifling yawns within my maws,
Soothing soap burns on knuckles
Flesh red raw, raging with volcanic vents;
Legions of lesions.
Yes, Soap Burns
With an unfurling of lips like a flag.
And fairness and humanity are a blotto-lotto,
In a Season of Death
A land where critical thought is chimera
Decency a mirage in a desert of sloth, dearth and drought
Typified by big-beasted, blustering, untamed heads of blonde
Holding court in oxygen tents in South London
Or bunkers in old DC.
Here I sit waiting for worms to nod and pay last respects
Hermit-cocooned in atom age cowl
Face mask – CHECK
White Apron – CHECK
Latex gloves – CHECK
This season’s must-have work and leisure wear.
Strolling in a daze through mental cloisters
Of words, reflections, laser-queued nostalgias
On a high definition screen
Punctuated by music and uneasy silence
Listening to “Unknown Pleasures” for the 18th time
All roads for the constipated artist scroll back
To that May 1980 evening
That taut washing line
In that Victorian terrace kitchen in Macclesfield
Back to the barrel of Vincent’s shotgun in Auvers
Virginia’s lifeless body floating down the Ouse.
Doggedly determined to ward out a world,
Burning up beyond my window.
Carve it with my sword of encrusted ideals
Sparking against this flint of a misanthrope’s heart
While suddenly the most casual of friends, part-time relations
Hammer on the walls of my solitude
Cracking them, punching through the plaster
Invading through the screens of Androids
Dusted down Skype - in camerata significato.
A banal procession of statistics
Invading the living room every night
As I hungrily eye the larder
Half-finished meal balanced on one knee
Bottle of beer on the other,
With only breakfast then lunch and dinner
And an evening stroll by the Styx (Or is it the Severn?)
To look forward to.
The riots of spring have ended
Statues have fallen
More in stock soon.
Sleep pretty wantons do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby. *
A ceasefire in the endless chatter of birds.
Electric green and sapphire canopies once erupted above
Now dulled by slate-blanded skies.
Trailing their grime
Tracing the effluvia of a species’ rise and fall
Through an atmosphere which dies once only
Now gorging breathless
On an air supply painfully finite.
The wailing and moaning and gnashing
This wrestle between life and death
Must not be for one season only
It must immaculately tattoo the future
Not to be erased
Is finally done.
*Taken from Thomas Dekker ‘Golden Slumbers’ – Patient Grissel (1603)