Us Too ?

witch trial
A Witch Trial by Joseph Baker


Us too ?

The accusations may be true,
Although we know we’ll never really know,
Because they’ll never come to court –
So round and round the rumours flow.
Is it slander ?  Is it exposé ?
We guess, but cannot know for sure,
Though plenty tell us yes or no,
And brand the sinners from the pure.
Some will castigate victims,
Sniffing lies or madness in their act –
But others join the critical mass,
Until the fatally-named are publicly sacked.

But us ?  We must decide –
To believe or to ignore ?
There’s plenty point the finger,
And there’s plenty keep the score.
But are they not still innocent
Until beyond a reasoned doubt ?
Or are we so convinced
That unproved testimony carries clout ?
Is this then justice by the mob
That surely always ends in tears ?
Or are we now, collectively,
The jury of their peers ?

Either we’re waking up to reason,
Or else witches are in season.



The Star-Spangled Manna

american flag on pole under blue sky during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on


The Star-Spangled Manna

To Anacr’on in Heaven, in bounty and might,
All night have we drunk from your wellspring of plenty.
But come, can you see by the dawn’s early light
How the cast-offs the shut-outs are bribing the sentry ?
With wearisome head, must quell this new dread
And face down the upstarts who’d stand in our stead,
Yet oft they look on’t us and find us supine;
They’ve come and they’ve seen us – much less than divine.



Vexillologically Vexed

A couple of proposed Russian flags in recent years by William Pokhlyobkin and Andrew Khlobystin

Vexillologically Vexed

Born in revolution was the Tricolour,
And suitably to radical design –
Oh sure, there were tripartite flags before,
Yet nothing like this latest Paris line.
And afterwards, we’ve trickies by the score,
As flagginess itself is redefined –
Back then, it showed a total break with lore,
By genius or accident of mind.
Felicity, simplicity,
Tradition would no limit be !
Their senses jarred by disregard
For all chromatic symmetry.
And so, unlike the world before,
You favoured grand to bear your brand –
Your tricolour said France for evermore !

Look on, you Russians, look and see,
The repercussions flying free –
For even in your own domain,
Napoleon has come again.
You took his classic of its type
And switched the order of each stripe –
And not content, we now discern,
You flipped his flag a quarter-turn.
I know, your old one had to go,
The flag that evry’body knew –
It still may shine in pure design,
But there was nothing pure on show.
And so, like Germany before,
You eschewed grand for safe yet bland –
And tricolours are great for that, for sure !

De-rigging the Deck



De-rigging the Deck

“No more taking high tea with the higher-ups,
Your majesty,” they told the Maid of Cups.

“No more living fancy-free like landed thieves,
Your majesty,” they urged the Page of Leaves.

“It’s not enough to be a patron of the arts,
Your majesty,” they warned the Queen of Hearts.

“No more clearing crofters from their fells
For sheep as far as one can see,
Your majesty,” they scared the Dame of Bells.

“No more shall your eldest fruit-of-loins
Be favoured for ascendancy,
Your majesty,” they snarled the King of Coins.

“You cannot beat or crush us all to graves,”
They shocked the Knight of Batons and the Prince of Staves.

“You cannot bribe or threaten us, my lords.”
They spooked the Knave of Diamonds and the Jack of Swords.

“We may be only deuces, threes and fours,
But to the House of Roses we bring wars.”

“The Court of Acorns next shall we uproot,
And then the Shields Clan shall follow suit.”

“We’ll strangle with our tentacles the bonds of Wands and Pentacles,
Then flush the royal flush out with a poker –
So let our fingers ruffle to the revolution shuffle,
And show Arcana Major why it can’t contain a joker.”

“You may be fat on clover, but you’ll soon be eating grubs,
Your majesty,” they promised to the Queen of Clubs.

“You’ll feel our pique upon your neck when sharpening our blades,
Your majesty,” they goaded to the King of Spades.

“The pips are taking back our land,
So drop your bluff and fold your hand.
We’ll take the tricks and watch you fall,
For lowly aces trump you all.”




picket line
The Picket Line by Max Ginsburg



Voltaire never said it,
But that matters not a mite –
He meant it, to his credit,
And he calls on us to fight.

The words may change, but we all know them,
Paraphrased through many pleas –
When times are tough, it’s time to show them,
‘Speshly to our enemies –

“I cannot stand the crap you spew,
I find you ignorant and vile –
But I will pitch my life for you,
To keep you free to spread your bile.”

We do not have to like it,
But by deuce! we must allow it !
Let us strike at those who’d strike it,
Vow to never disavow it.

(Except perhaps when it’s horrific
Vi’lence that’s incited there –
But then those times must be specific,
And they must be bloody rare !)

So however hard they’re hitting,
We must build our hearts of granite –
Though we’re still, of course, permitting
Ev’ry speech that calls to ban it.

Rights aren’t only for the nice,
Or those with better words and clout –
So come on now and tell us twice,
And we shall smile and tune you out.

So say it with me, all of you,
And say it always, come what may –
So Voltaire never said it, true,
But we shall say it, ev’ry day !



Not saying I think strikers are ‘ignorant and vile’ – I just like the painting’s mood of conflict and speech.




God Save the Queen by Jamie Reid (though not the actual version used on the single cover)



Yours are the breaks
And ev’ry advantage,
The lowest of stakes
For the richest rewards.
Handed the world,
As you took it for granted:
Benighted and Earled
As miladies and lords.

It’s sad but it’s true
That we’ve little democracy,
You’re all that we’ve got
To break your own power.
We’re looking to you,
The old aristocracy:
Excise the rot,
And descend from your tower.

For better or worse, you are,
Blessing and curse, you are,
Dated, perverse,
When ennobled and crowned.
But leave it behind, will you
Open your mind, will you,
Maybe combined,
We can reach common ground.

Surely it’s common sense ?
History teaches us
Not be the leaches,
Or sponges or midges.
Give up your influence !
Give up your privilege !
Let’s not mend fences;
Instead, let’s build bridges.

Don’t be a traitor
Betraying your nation,
For we are your nation:
Each pilot and waiter.
So be a creator
Who levels the score,
To make Britain greater
Than ever before.

For better or worse, come on,
Balance your purse, come on,
Then reimburse
For each corgi and glove.
Pay back your debt, my friends,
Pay back in sweat, my friends;
This is no threat,
But a chance to show love.

Break with your ranks,
And roll up your sleeves,
Where ev’ryone cranks,
And ev’ryone heaves,
Where ev’ryone plays,
And ev’ryone learns,
As ev’ryone pays,
And ev’ryone earns.

Come quarrying stones,
Or burying bones,
Or manning the phone-lines,
Or polishing brass.
Come digging the spuds,
Or squeeging the suds,
Regardless of bloodlines,
Regardless of class.

For better and worse, we are,
Plumber and nurse, we are,
Truly diverse,
And yet wholly alike.
Won’t you engage with us,
Sharing your stage with us ?
Open our cage,
And then turn up the mic.

For richer or poorer,
In grandeur and squalor,
In blue and white collar,
Let’s see the day won.
Whatever the weather,
In ev’ry endeavour:
Let’s shoulder together
To get the job done.



Royal Peculiar

georgie porgy
A Voluptuary under the Horrors of Digestion by James Gillray


Royal Peculiar

Open our swimming pools, open our shopping malls,
Hold no opinion and smile at the crowd.
That’s what you’re paid for, so you can’t complain;
Walking and waving, that’s all you’re allowed.
We care what you think, just never express it;
Never forget that your shame ain’t our prob.
The good and the bad and the downright carbuncle,
Open them gladly or get a new job.