Blue Chip, Brown Bread

Thailand 2016 official mourning wear, required for one month (or one year for state officials).

Blue Chip, Brown Bread

Somebody I’ve never met has died,
And you’ve never met him either –
Yet we’re required to shut up and abide,
And know our place.
We’re in for a long and boring ride,
And woe betide the unbeliever –
From Kensington to the banks of the Clyde,
The nation shuts its face.

Clear the TV schedules, quick,
They need to fawn over a nobody –
All these tributes, creepy and slick,
For fear of facing anarchy !
So after years of giving him stick
They’re truth-to-power turns limp and shoddy –
But then, these days they’re all in thick,
And even the Guardian bends the knee.

The media barons and ermine peers
Will lead the mourning, doffed and bowed,
And pray for another fifty years
In their suffocating drone.
As they wring out the mandatory tears
And tug their forelocks proud,
The Establishment betrays its fears
As it buries one of its own.

April the 6th


April the 6th

First, stick with a calendar
That clearly isn’t fit for purpose –
Stick with it because, old son,
That’s just the way we’ve always done.
Tradition is a glut of yesterdays,
Where silence runs a surplus –
Until the change has grown too great
(Yet still two hundred years too late).
Then hack eleven days off all at once –
A week-and-a-half, just done away –
And then a twelfth is added, see,
For the non-leaping century.
(But next time round – it isn’t,
Cos it isn’t, cos that’s what they say.)
And that is why our pounds and pence
Outweigh our bloody common sense !

The Price of Knowledge

Photo by Armin Rimoldi on

The Price of Knowledge

Once I was a student,
And a dreamy kid who wanted to know more.
I went to find out what it meant,
To study art and life and metaphor.
And though I had a cocky gob,
I’m not sure I was quite the nation’s cream.
It didn’t lead me to a job –
But oh, it surely taught me how to dream.

I was pretty broke back then,
But I received a grant to help me through –
And when I passed, and stowed my pen,
I looked upon the world as somewhere new.
I found some work, I found some mates,
And neither needed much of what I’d learned –
But still it opened up the gates,
And gave me confidence that I had earned.

So now I gladly pay my taxes,
Pay my way, and never ride for free –
So when I hear of fiscal axes,
Spare a thought for who we used to be –
For loans and debt will only scare
The very ones you think superfluous –
So tax me more !  It’s only fair,
To help out all the dreamy kids like us.


Photo by Sebastian Voortman on


With their gilt letterheads
And their bunting-clad dreams,
Where the serfs are so happy
Beneath their regimes –
But history swept them
From palace and pomp,
When young turks and comrades
Have drained the old swamp.

With a God save the king
From the Mayan to Ming –
So soon shall the peasants
Once more kiss our ring.

Yet now they must sit out
And mingle with riffraff
In Kensington squalor
And only three staff.
They’re blind to the passage
Of fortune and time,
Like grand dukes and dames
In a lost pantomime.

With a title and crest
And a well-feathered nest
And a son and successor
Exquisitely dressed.

Their ancestors ruled
With the richest of tastes,
Those kings lived like kings –
But they now must be chaste.
Where once their great splendour
Was cheered by the proles,
Now their Swiss bank accounts
Are all filling with holes.

With a hip hip hurray
To the misty-eyed day
When the jumped-up and bourgeois
Are all swept away.

These make-believe monarchs
In exile, alone,
With their cronies uncrowned
And their thrones overthrown –
They long to return
To their castles and knights
Where the realms was unsullied
By voters and rights.

With a curtsey and bow
And a greater-than-thou,
Oh, we’ll soon send these yokels
Right back to the plough.


Canada Goose 7¢ Stamp by Emanuel Hahn


Big and brash and loud – so loud !
All whooping, splashing, strutting proud,
And never just the one – but with a crowd !
Filling cities, wrecking peace –
Beware, my goslings, Canada-bred geese !

And yet, they’re clearly here to stay
Through wet and winter, come what may,
When many native birds have flown away.
They’re down to earth and on the rise,
Their flying-Vs patrolling cloudy skies.

The parents grub and labour much
While taking turns to mind their clutch,
And grazing grass that locals will not touch.
Gregarious by flock and gaggle,
Proudly waddling with their native waggle.

They are our future, anyhow –
Americans, yet British now,
As British as a plum or Friesian cow.
Though black and brown of feather, true,
Their spirit sports the red, the white, and blue.



We’ve all heard of the sealed train
That carried the 36 between
Zürich and the Glasbahnhof,
In April 1917.
A couple of ferries and a new suit later,
Tornio station, platform 1,
To catch the sleeper to Petrograd –
And become the prodigal son.
Finnish metals all the way,
On over the swamps and rugged terrain
To the Finland Station and history,
Though no-one thought to note the train .
One is preserved – it may be the one,
But as likely not – we’ll never know.
Those locos were all faithful workers,
Too busy working to stop and crow.

But in the height of August,
Fleeing back the way he came –
Working his passage with a shovel,
Lenin stoked the movement’s flame.
293 – preserved in glass
The only loco we know he rode,
Not that we can blame the pistons
For their unexpected load.
American built, as the century turned,
A proud ten-wheeler, H2-Class,
A broad-gauge beauty, wood-fired boiler,
Black, without that bourgeois brass.
Does it matter ?  Holy relics ?
Lenin was also just a machine
That public anger drove to the station
In the red-heat of 1917.

Soundtrack to the Revolution

Soundtrack to the Revolution

Say you want a revolution ?
You wanna be a street-fighting man,
Raging hard against the masterplan ?
But violence is no solution –
However much the Man is to blame,
You’ll never beat him by killing in the name.

We won’t be televised
As we meet the new boss, city on fire,
Between the barracades, over the wire.
You wanna be mobilized
By standing in the way of control
As the Eton Rifles take their bloody toll ?

You wanna fight the power ?
Then let the records turn turn turn –
With ice-pick vocals to make ears burn.
Cometh the finest hour,
Then lock up the guns & ammo – it’s clear
That we’ve gotta sing our way through here.

Fernando, can you hear the drums,
Rocking the free world, rocking the casbah –
Let’s sing for a year that we’re dreaming after,
Until the reckoning comes –
And the lost cause chord at last gives birth.
To give peace a chance, for what it’s worth.

Margarita Time

detail from Banquet of Cleopatra by Geovanni Tiepolo

Margarita Time

Cleopatra dropped a pearl in vinegar
To win a bet,
And watched her bead dissolve away to nothing
Without one regret –
Although in truth it must have fizzed a day or two
Before it’s done
And in that time she’d lost her land and lost her life
And lost her son.
And Rome, while once her lover, saw her lustre tarnish
Bit by bit –
For strip away her cultured beauty,
And she’s just a speck of grit.

The Sins of the Fathers

The Sins of the Fathers

It wasn’t our hands
Which pressed the button, pulled the lever,
Signed the warrant, wrung the neck,
Or delivered the commands.

It wasn’t our hands
Which pointed the gun, swung the cleaver,
Stiffled a yawn, cleaned the fleck
Of bloodstain off our bands.

No, those were our fathers,
Our monsters, whose surnames we bare –
Names that echo everywhere,
Our shameful brands.

But we are not our fathers,
Despite all that we share.
We carry still their genes, their glands –
But not their hands.

If we had been where they were,
Would we have acted the same ?
Do they run deeper than their name,
Through our hinterlands ?

We’ll never know, though we prefer
To think that we would not have killed.
But we are here, our future in our hands –
Let’s use them now to build.

The Inner Demon

Inner Demons by AConstantBother

The Inner Demon

Think right, say right,
Keep it careful, keep it kind –
Keep a clean and healthy mind
That wants no truck with spite.
And yet, that inner voice
Who always loves its little games,
Who always knows the nasty names,
Will whisper up its choice.
It knows they’re wrong, and that’s the point,
It’s daring us to shout them out
Because they’re wrong and still have clout
Because they’re out-of-joint.
It’s bating us to say the word –
It wants to make us take the blame
For ev’ry hurtful hateful name
We’ve ever heard.
But these are not our whole –
These shall not define or break us,
Just stray thoughts and troublemakers –
We are in control.
It only loathes itself, infact,
But we can still refuse to sink –
Let’s judge us not in what we think,
But how we act.