Impressionist painters in poverty
On canvasses lacking in threads,
Glamorous silent-screen starlets,
And bereted and bearded reds,
Scientists seeking-out secrets,
And dare-devils pushing their luck –
They died too soon and died too young,
When fortunes came unstuck.
In days before the drugs did for,
Disease was the way to go –
Consumption, of course – or else it’s the pox –
Or the needs of the narrative flow.
Heroines, gothic or chivalrous,
In novels antique or sublime –
They’re dying too young from the loin or the lung,
Yet they’re dying precisely on time.
Rock and roll, all voters !
Staunch and floaters, poor and wealthy –
To the hustling hustings jamboree !
Bring the kids and bring the dogs,
Let’s throng with hacks from press and blogs
To jeer the speeches, snap the selfies,
Make them promise jam for tea –
Then talk with wonks and rebel Scots,
And mix with toffs and flat-capped Trots.
Let’s join the jostle and bus the bustle,
And get on down to the hustings hustle.
But it’s never like that these days.
Our candidates are scrambled through
A mesh of endless screens,
That changes all the red to blue
And filters out the golds and greens
Till all that’s left are greys.
They rarely need to meet the public,
Rarely let us have our say –
There’s just too many unelected journos in the way !
No wonder disillusionment is growing –
But no ! That’s what they want of us !
We mustn’t be intimidated by the charging battle-bus.
Don’t be ashamed of floating or don’t-knowing,
Thoughtful contemplation never was a crime –
Just make sure that you make it to the booth on time !
For I don’t care who gets your vote,
As long as someone gets your vote –
Be they protest, status quo, or loony-fringers.
Don’t buy their apathetic spin,
Or else we let the cynics win –
A can’t-be-arsed electorate of impotents and whingers.
For ours is the power, ours the law,
My fellow voters !
We aren’t just humble peasants stood in awe
Before our lords –
We’re citizens – not subjects,
Nor statistics, blips or quotas –
We’re individual voters,
And not meek amorphous hordes.
We’re millions of voices making millions of choices,
With our pencils mightier than any swords.
So roll up, you voters ! Shake a leg !
It’s time to give a damn ! With me !
Let’s make the bloody buggers beg –
Let’s rock this hustings jamboree !
I make the sun rise. I control fate.
To me the credit for all that is great.
Know that my worth is a thousand of you,
And yet I descended to share what I knew.
This world I remade in my image agleam,
From antediluvian law and regime –
And now ev’ry crisis since my rise to rule,
Is legacy still of that tenancy cruel.
But I have delivered unto you, my flock,
For I’m your All-Knowing, Infallible rock.
And I have the Power, the Knowledge, the Plan
Of fiscal and social beyond wit of man.
Yet do not presume to inquiry my ways,
Don’t ponder my motives, don’t question who pays.
Just pray for my blessing, and so bring to pass
A life for the better in safe Middle Class.
They make it rainy. They bring you down.
They are the Demons who covet my crown.
For their ev’ry plan is most evil and wicked –
They take all your hopes and your dreams and they stick it
And quash your beliefs as they freight them with dread,
Then charm you to dream of their visions instead.
They promise you ev’rything better their way
At just half the price that you currently pay.
And, yes, it is true, how their glamours beguile,
With pretty predictions and invectious bile –
They smear my almighty with heretic slander,
With scandal and intrigue and base propaganda.
But since I am perfect, we must remain strong;
They cannot be right, for I cannot be wrong.
For I am your god, your elected divine –
It’s never my fault when the sun doesn’t shine.
We lined-up on the shore,
All so silently and patient,
As we waited for the ferryman to come.
The river was so calm,
And the air so deathly still,
And the souls were so sepulchral and so glum.
The sky above was black,
With no moon or stars upon it,
And yet light there was, from unseen candle wicks.
The ripples barely washed
On the river we all knew we knew:
Some say the Acheron, and some the Styx.
The sand beneath our sandals
Was a ghostly grey, and barren,
And was bunched up by the groynes that strutted out.
No birds were seen there wading,
And no crabs were on the scuttle,
And no barnacles or sedges, flies or trout.
Yet offering a focus
Was a short and ancient jetty –
Like a road to nowhere but the endless sea.
And here it was we waited,
With no sense of how long waiting,
For we hadn’t any other place to be.
Then through the unseen nothing
Came the faintest splash and motion,
As a distant dory drifted into view –
And standing at its stern
Was the sternest man left standing,
As he worked his ten-foot ore into the blue.
With a slow and practices action
Of his stroke, recover, stroke,
So his rust-red ferry glided to the shore
With not a punt too many,
He was docked upon the jetty,
As he paintered-up and shoulder-slung his oar.
Bearded and burly
With the bearing of a bull,
Looking old as both the river and the boat.
A loincloth and a cloak
Were his only grubby garments,
With his chest and thighs as hairy as a goat.
He stood upon the planks
And he held his other hand out,
Which we knew was for the taking of the fare.
We reached into our mouths,
And we felt beneath our tongues,
And withdrew the coin deposited in there.
Some could find no obol
And they feared they should be stranded,
And they clutched their worried forehead in dismay
But lo !, they found two pennies
Had been placed upon their eyelids
And they sighed with some relief that they could pay.
The boatman took the money
Which he dropped into a leather pouch –
He never looked, but fingers felt the coins –
He knew which ones weren’t obols,
And he tossed them in the river,
And their owners likewise shoved against the groynes.
Those who proffered pennies
Earned a scowl and muttered whinges
On tradition, change, and numpties who know best.
But rules are rules, and tolls are tolls –
He pocketed the coppers both,
Then waved them on his barge just like the rest.
He only took a dozen,
As we sat on barest boards,
While he stood upon the till and plumbed his oar.
And those who couldn’t pay
Were the stranded of the sands,
Who must wander through the wasteland evermore.
And what was waiting for us
On that other, distant bank ?
We never tell, and you shall never know –
At least, until the day you die
And make the trip yourself –
Unless, of course, you’ve somewhere else to go ?
They seem to be lasting for longer each year,
So long past September and into December –
For even in frost and in sleet, they appear –
Still shining in bloom on the thermal frontier.
And I have seen violets outlast their season,
And snowdrops and hellebores turning up early doors.
I wonder if climate change offers a reason ?,
For something is urging these flowers and trees on.
The branches are bare, but the apples still mellow –
We’ve bred them so hardy, it just makes them tardy.
Surprises of colour make strange bedding-fellows,
With the roses still red as the crocus bursts yellow.