Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Masque Of Apathy

For Matt Panesh, with apologies to Percy.

As I splumped upon my couch,
Scrabbling through tobacco pouch,
There came a voice upon the air
That told a vision of “Out There”.

I saw Greed upon the run,
He had a mask like Cameron.
Very smooth he looked, yet spastic -
With his forehead made of plastic.

From his smile, so fixed and fickle,
There escaped an oily trickle
As with his fist, so fast and hard,
He crammed his pudgy cheeks with lard.

Next came Falsehood, and his eyes
Were yellow, like Vince Cable's ties.
In his arms, a white lamb trembled -
He wrung its neck as he dissembled.

Thronged with lackeys and fat cats
Wearing Artful Dodger hats,
With Osborne's gleam upon his eye,
Cronyism next rode by.

And many more Infractions played
This pleonectic masquerade-
Dressed in suits like brazen gangsters;
Or Lawyers, Priests, and Merchant Bankers.

Last, Apathy, with empty sockets,
iPod on, and hands in pockets,
Slouching like some languid goth,
Arrived upon a Three-Toed Sloth,

And scrawled upon his sullen head,
A faded tattoo could be read:
In childish handwriting, it said

A crowd arrived in Sta-Prest trousers,
Nike shoes and Primark blouses,
Gathered there, all al fresco,
Laden down with bags from Tesco.

With cringing cheers and servile scrapes -
Like backward kids, or maybe apes -
They hailed their monarch, Apathy,
With sycophantic flattery:

“Mighty Lord, the day is Thine!
To you we give our Life and Time!
Since we don't want to use our brains,
We paved the way for you to reign!

“Tell us of the latest fashions!
Give us Wants instead of Passions!
Turn us into passive clones,
With credit cards and payday loans,
PS3s and mobile phones!

“We, the people, now rejoice!
Exulting you with single voice:
Apathy, to Thee we bow!
Can we go watch Big Brother now?”

Then Apathy, like one who's drugged,
Could barely move, so simply shrugged -
And with a flick of weary digit,
Dismissed the crowd, the pageant with it.

Those foul personifications went
To London, to the Parliament,
Where with careless, strident whistles
They swapped the schools for Trident missiles.

They flogged the forests, bought the press,
Raised a tax to line their nests,
And then one final sickly jest:
Dismantled all the NHS.

The crowd cared not when they were told
The hospitals had all been sold:
“It seems like effort, starting fights -
Midsomer Murder's on tonight!

Oh, let it lie. Yes, leave it be,
Too complex for the likes of me!
I'm sure those politicians know
What they're doing. Or I hope so.

I voted for that nice man, Clegg:
He'd never let me starve or beg!
He swore to fight for liberty!
Now let's just have a cup of tea,

Forget the politics and worry -
I'll microwave us all a curry!”
With processed food inside their bellies,
(Such paltry fare, like on their tellies,)

They chained themselves to hollow screens,
Were hypnotised by hollow dreams.
Sedated on that couch from Sweden,
They sat and snoozed away their freedoms

And while they died in living rooms,
Two remained out in the gloom.
One was Hope – she looked forlorn,
As if somehow her heart were torn,

The other, Wisdom, shook his head,
And in a weary voice, he said:
I really don't know what to do-
They are many, we are few.

At times like this, one might get jaded,”
And with that, 
                                 the vision faded...

Nosce Te Ipsum, Dickhead

Based on a true story.

I was talking to some guys at a poetry show
And one of them sighed “It's not what you know
It's who you know, and that's the way the world goes,
And so, even though I can make the rhymes flow,
My career goes nowhere, it's not fair!
I despair of ever getting anywhere,
Cuz I'm just not in a clique with those poets over there!
Look at Tim Clare, and that other fucking pair,
Taking fanfares from a public unaware,
I declare, that there's other poets out there!”

And then he went on stage, reading poems off a page,
In a rage, for an age, and though it's hard to gauge
The Birdcage crowd, they didn't clap loud
As he shuffled offstage, still under a cloud.
Cuz it's hard to engage, it's hard to understand,
When you see a pissy poet with some paper in his hand.
It's hard to understand, it's hard to relate,
To someone who just hates, blaming others for their fate,
Like a fifth-rate firebrand, stuck behind a mic stand,
Demonstrating nothing but command of longhand.
Just standing up doesn't make you a standup,
And no-one wants to see a poet stand with his hand up,

Reading his rhymes
Cuz he won't learn the lines,
Vocalising verse
Cuz he just won't rehearse,

And then have the temerity
To claim that his austerity
Is part of some conspiracy
Of the ruling coterie
That somehow governs poetry!
Look in the mirror if you wanna see the culprit!
Think about your crowd when you're screaming from your pulpit!
Go get a dictionary,
Look up “performance” -
Between you and that,
The gulf is enormous.
One thing I've learnt in my time as a poet:
It's not what you know, or who you know,
It's what you do with what you know
And how you show it.