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Thomas Ország-Land 

A Birth

For Frank Barnaby


How distant: like vultures. The multiplying patrol

of military satellites encircles

the green and throbbing earth in patient precision.

And all has been said. And nothing has been resolved.

Our leaders are lost. The poets stare in silence.


The conference halls are filled with warnings defining

in glaring blindness the final peril of war.

The libraries are the mass graves of our finest words

prescribing cautious strategies for survival.

Our greedy means have soared beyond our purpose.


The priests have lowered their gaze to watch the countdown.

Our missiles are primed and humming: aimed at ourselves.


Is this the conclusion, the end of all the millennia,

the logical ending never intended? – My love,

come hold my hand, let's call the children together

and lay the table, my love, and crown the hour

because the earth is giving birth to the future.


This is the end of the era of blood-drenched towers.

Humanity (you and I and the neighbours) must choose

how to use our marvellous powers – and either die

by our science or fulfil the ancient ideal

and deploy our plans to tame and enrich this planet.


And the choice is there in the simple logic of children,

the warmth of your hand and even in these very lines.





If the shadow of towering missile systems should fall

across your face, do not wilt in dejection.

For even the tallest of towers cannot grow as tall

as human projection.

Thomas Ország-Land was a poet and award-winning foreign correspondent who wrote from London and his native Budapest. His last book was Survivors: Hungarian Jewish Poets of the Holocaust (Smokestack, 2014).

Public Administration


Lurking low in the village pool

the hungry crocodile hid the fool.


Poor fool, his life was only a trifle

and no-one bothered to lift a rifle –


till, to everyone's public grief,

the crocodile chose the local chief.




In memoriam Jaroslav Ježek 


The leaders of nations

have sown new notions

of treating unwanted


thus reasoned

a seasoned

child of a death camp,

thus entreating

you – and the future:


You’ ll lose all you own.

Even life is on loan.

Don’t cry. Be cautious.

Be canny. Be clever,

and never, but never,

but never forget it.

And, boldly

hold up your head

...while you’ve got it.

Poor Doors
Sheriff Stars

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle
bedroom tax
Disrupt and Upset
bedroom tax
Sheriff Stars

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle
Disrupt and Upset

Militant Thistles

prickling the politics of "permanent austerity"

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