fledgist: Me in a yellow shirt. (Default)
 
above the tower a single vulture floats
we wait and wait to see just who has died
on earth we see the ones with heavy coats
and wonder just what sins they have to hide
in the far distance the returning boats
their sails are bouyed up by the winds of pride
and then the bell that chimes a solemn note
to warn the creatures that live in the moat

a time like this might well count as the best
for ones who cannot any future see
we're made to understand it's all a test
and what counts is the buzzing of the bee
first comes the one in cloak and then the rest
wait in the shadow of the tallest tree
it's not that we can some reform still make
but that the giant's washing in the lake

a moment that might stretch into an hour
and then we have to make the proper move
the vulture still observes the lonely tower
the mechanism's moving in its groove
there's time to bathe or take a simple shower
and nothing left for anyone to prove
changes may come to us from far beyond
while the wise fish still swims within her pond

fledgist: Me in a yellow shirt. (negative avatar)

a mention of this is enough to frighten
the bravest warrior into greater speed
the pile of words never seems to lighten
we read and think and stop again to read
words that no longer cheer and brighten
thoughts that can satisfy no human need
the beacon's lit and war is on the way
but we don't pause just to enjoy the day

the moral of each tale we must belabour
there's never enough reason for our lies
the food we eat has never had a savour
the dunghill is replete with hungry flies
the nobleman must bear a foil or sabre
and fuss about with foolish silken ties
priests who command a weary folk to pray
aren't ready for the ones who simply slay

fledgist: Me in a yellow shirt. (Default)
what gods peer out from these bewildered trees
we cannot tell for their names are quite dead
a moments calm and then the whirling breeze
a sort of dance but one that's filled with dread
we fear what's hidden from the one who sees
the true decision's kept within each head
a matter of the heart we choose to think
and then we find ourselves right on the brink

the weather's broken but there's not yet rest
our knowledge cannot shield us from the fire
what proof there is comes out of this hard test
the wisest know they're preaching to the choir
and yet they tell us we must give our best
we're not the ones who need to be assuaged
and yet you know that we've the weather gauged

storms come and go and what's left is not sweet
the warmest greetings go to the worst sort
we aren't so sure that we've the proper meat
and yet we know that we won't be caught short
we think that we're entitled to some treat
but we are not the ones with friends at court
evening must spread to one and all her balm
we know this and we know we must be calm
fledgist: Me in a yellow shirt. (Default)

Across the distance messages return
from star-dates long forgotten by the stars;
the symbols in the crystal glow and burn,
embers of Klingon and Romulan wars.
And now we all such strife and conflict spurn,
and settle our disputes in spaceport bars.
Although some memories still rankle and vex
we celebrate, each in their turn, these treks.

From former neutral zone and wartime front
come tired heroes; they've been to and fro
from Picard's calm to some old Kirk-like stunt
they'll continue with their mission, make it so
whether they're diplomatic or they're blunt;
for the primal imperative is to boldly go.
And atoms, like infinitives, smash and split
yet, somehow, on each voyage, there is wit.

To distant quadrants of which nothing's known
by dynamic forces which they can't control
but which can't overcome them, they'll be blown;
alien and cyborg each find a human soul
and Vulcan shows his heart is not a stone.
To broaden human knowledge still the goal.
What, though we wonder, will their journey find
more wonderful than the frail human mind?

On deep space station there's another cause
controlling diverse species passing through;
aliens and humans finding common laws
are not enough, and yet each gets their due.
Each faces and comes to master normal flaws,
and each comes to take the other's point of view.
What binds them all together is the start
of shared understanding in each sapient heart.

And even pioneers, on their first enterprise
shocked and delighted by the things they found;
warmed, hurt, or frozen under alien skies
but still determined to stand on human ground.
Learning to sort hard truths from the soft lies
and ears attuning to the sphere's great sound.
No quantum leap this from earth to deep space
and yet we know this is their rightful place.

fledgist: Me in a yellow shirt. (Default)
if when we ask for sense we get a stone
and told that this is the best form of bread
we can't expect the criminal to atone
unless his heart is filled with fear and dread
but that's not a thing for us here alone
who have been sheltered watered fed
enough that there's been a grave crime
but not enough to punish him with rhyme

on one side sea and on the other land
the beach is long and lined with cheap hotels
we dodge the gulls and the terns stand
their feet firmly placed on small clam shells
there's so much here we need to understand
while from above the fool inanely yells
we've learned that someone tells the story
in order to make sure they get the glory

we're far from sea here up two thousand feet
the trees outside are turning a pale green
i strain to hear the noises from the street
my thoughts are all about what's gone and been
the hour has not yet come when we must meet
i've learned to count the things that i have seen
movements in dust and debris here abound
i listen for the perfection of new sound

where there's a will there's usually much gold
each of us does our duty for a plain fee
we've seen the ones who don't duly get rolled
hope is not something you pluck off a tree
we have to do the things that we are told
but in our hearts we won't really agree
our course though is mapped out and worse
we can't summon the energy to curse

name the new obligation and we'll run
as fast as feet will carry us we'll be well hid
there's not a need to wonder if all's in fun
we've managed to keep our pictures off the grid
our activities will the most jaded come to stun
but we'll not be found guilty god forbid
the messages we've got will have to keep
till we've been able to obtain true sleep

Salamis

Mar. 16th, 2007 07:36 am
fledgist: Me in a yellow shirt. (Default)

The stories we are told feature rich muscle boys
(you bulk up big if you spend each day in the gym),
who with swords, spears, and suchlike murder-toys,
and after chanting their great battle-hymn,
proceeded to show invading foes the joys
of battling men with huge reserves of vim.
At least that is the tale that we've been told,
it's hoary now and certainly very old.

So they were brave, and they stood at the pass,
and their press spokesfolk knew how best to spin
the story, so that when they lay dead in the grass
they scored a kind of virtuous late win
and who says otherwise is condemned as an ass.
So others fought with them at that grave hour,
but from the page their efforts we will scour.

And when some fellows make a picture show
to hearten friends and remind them of brave deeds,
we see these heroes bathed in the noble glow
of men who had transcended human needs;
they fought in honour, trading blow for blow,
planting our liberty (or at any rate its seeds).
That's not what really happened there, of course,
but someone thinks we need a fellow on a horse.

Now freedom's a thing which no good man will lose
but with his life itself, or so it has been said;
there are some fellows (no names now) who'd choose
thralldom instead since it beats being dead.
But they're the folks whose path we cannot use,
and so we cut the cord and burn the thread.
We'll laud our heroes to beyond the skies,
though, frankly, we'll have to spin lots of lies.

But we're told nothing of the humbler type
the artisans and craftsmen, the hoe men
come from their fields, and boats, and ripe
with honest sweat, to take up the old job again.
without histrionics, screams, or other tripe,
the just ask where to row and pull and when
to drop their oars and grab their spears and swords,
common they are, but they fight as well as lords.

Sure, you can write an epitaph or two,
name heroes, speak of mothers' quick-dried tears;
allow their actions to pass in full review,
and speak about them all for years and years.
Until no one will ask 'what did they do?'
but think of how they conquered all their fears.
They're large now that they were in real life,
each of them a hero, even to his wife.

But Aechylus tugged on a long wood oar,
he saw a battle and he took his part.
His play's the thing, it will not lull nor bore,
he was the master of the playwright's art.
There's blood indeed, offstage, and guts, and gore,
but still the enemy's shown to have a heart.
He took his place, beside the common folk,
who fought together to resist the yoke.

The moral here, if I'm allowed to preach,
is not that epitaphs are no great guide
(or that their job is to instruct and teach),
we know they fought by the mountain's side
knowing that victory was past their reach;
we know that they took the most somber pride
in holding on even well past the breach.
It's certainly a major point of honour,
if you fight on knowing that you're a goner.

We're fed on lies proclaimed historic fact,
we're told that we should honour these brave souls;
we're told to exercise restaint and tact,
acknowledge that these men had noble goals.
we can't our praise and honour now retract
although their bodies have been cast in holes.
It angers us, though, that the rich and proud
should have their virtues so proclaimed aloud.

Victory came from quite ordinary chaps,
men who did their jobs, and then went home;
we don't see their burials marked on any maps,
no one in their honour has put up any dome.
They ran their race, they reached the final laps,
but they didn't stray or run or roam.
Instead they fought just to defend their land,
victory came from the hard rowers' hand.

fledgist: Me in a yellow shirt. (Default)
we've got the thing we wanted that is war
the victims die each day and we stand by
we claim that we didn't really know the score
but each claim is swift uncovered as a lie
what we've done is pick at an open sore
and laugh and laugh as orphan children cry
we've got the power the will the immense might
what we say what we do must be right

who dies or lives will not disturb our feast
pardoning turkeys is the best of powers
who cares that we've unleashed a hungry beast
we want revenge for our swift-fallen towers
the west must triumph over the dark east
our backers know these are their finest hours
but children wounded or dead in the alleys
we have no time for these political sallys

we'll swallow camels whole at gnats we will not strain
torture's acceptable when the skin is dark or brown
those people you know they don't really feel the pain
besides have you seen the shithouse they call a town
it shouldn't trouble even your most delicate brain
and if you choose to argue we'll laugh and call you clown
we can control and determine the average guy's views
for we're the ones who decide just what makes news

in time you'll thank us for our most decisive deeds
for making sure our profits and gaining all that oil
for planting in sure ground the eager seeds
that will grow into forests with watering and toil
democracy we'll call the system that needs
our arms to back it lest the plain folk recoil
and who cares if our stories are just plain lies
we look so dapper in our neat suits and ties
fledgist: Me in a yellow shirt. (Default)
the current set of intellectual norms
requires that we develop sharp critique
of the masks beneath which our reality forms
without producing either rancour or pique
although outside the crazy preacher storms
announcing that armageddon is next week
which makes it hard either to learn or teach
when half the class thinks heaven's within reach

the problem that one faces in the classroom
is different from the problem of debate
you're got young people with a fear of doom
if they the instructor happen to berate
and others sunk in deepest dullest gloom
because the one they want's broken the date
so they sit there pretending full attention
while in their minds are things no one should mention

who cares how those distant countries all are run
they're not america so they don't count
they're not lit by the same hot earnest sun
their rivers do not flow from honest fount
students long to see if the hour's at last done
when to their ears their mobile phones will mount
for being out of touch with sometime friends
could lead to all sorts of distasteful trends

nothing brings anger to the student phiz
or annoys them enough to make them groan
as when they find they're going to get a quiz
and on the subject they're as dumb as stone
and even the one who thinks that she's a whiz
wishes that she could call out on her phone
because you know with daylight still to burn
it's much too hard to either think or learn

and as if that were not too great a fight
consider that when an essay's come due
they think that it's a torture to sit and write
because they know they haven't got a clue
to study's much too hard or only for the bright
who have a plan these four years to get through
but if once out they're stuck then god almighty
the fault for that is clearly down to whitey
fledgist: Me in a yellow shirt. (Default)
the chances have been good for wary men
to make their piles and profit from the dead
not for them concern about times when
dreams rise up in the night with sights of dread
nor for the dead trapped in a burning pen
the conscience shrivels in a wealthy head
and those who pile the faggots for the fire
are absent when the last martyrs expire

those who have taken the magician's gold
believe that they've acquired a precious thing
not realising that the game's been sold
and they are bound in service to the king
until the morning when though cruel and bold
they scream as they fall in the fiery ring
for kings are not known for their gratitude
and do not care if you take that attitude

how many dead our sovereign does not care
he's gone upon his travels to see how
the subjects in the distant lands do fare
and how much milk will give the golden cow
expecting that the angered will not dare
to risk the furrowing of his noble brow
besides he thinks we will not institute
proceedings to show that he's a brute

the devil's in the details so they say
and getting out is not like getting in
we can't wish all the difficulties away
or claim that peace and truth are masks of sin
we think that when we enter in the fray
it means that automatic we will win
and not that the old ship of state will sink
ponderous and titanic in the drink

for war's a tough and unpredictable sport
not to be entered lightly with a smile
it's not a game of the genteeler sort
to play on sunny afternoons a while
it's center is a morass in which once caught
each step you take becomes malign and vile
and monstrous horrors come not single spies
but in a huge batallion of smug lies
fledgist: Me in a yellow shirt. (negative avatar)
tit's the right time to go out for a drink
forget about the job and all that shit
or sit back in my chair and simply think
or come up with some coruscating wit
the day's gone on too long i'm on the brink
of getting up and just plain skiving it
but that would not be good or so i'm told
though i should just be simply bad and bold

the wonder's that i'm here and attending
to troubles nonsense lies and honest thought
the problem's that it all seems to be blending
into a single lump of value nought
where both the false and the heart-rending
tales leave me feeling cold and quite uncaught
this is the thing about this role or part
how long exposure calcifies the heart

who's got the power in this working relation
but the one who begs or wheedles or who cries
or claims that bad circumstance and situation
have caused the harm and provoked all the lies
who can in loud voice falsify frustration
and shout their fancy stories to the skies
though frankly each time i'm told a lie
i smile and nod though really i should sigh

then there's the one who copies it all out
and says the work's original and true
when caught the stammering foolish lout
acts like he hasn't got a single clue
as to what it is i'm so angry about
and why i seem so totally in a stew
while i in manner most direct and blunt
condemn the idiot for his dumb stunt

i'm most pleased with those of them who try
who know that there's more to it than a grade
who seek the answer for sound knowledge pry
and understand that words will be their trade
they provoke a smile and not a weary sigh
for them my enthusiasm does not fade
but most see learning as a sort of tree
up which they climb to capture a degree

it doesn't matter how the world is run
they're all americans so they don't care
the class just interrupts their job or fun
not as good as the gossip on the stair
the hard graft of thinking they will shun
until they do the lsats and they find
to pass them requires some skills of mind

if there are wrongs then whitey is to blame
and nothing's changed for the past sixty years
if i could find a time machine to tame
and sent them back they'd soon dissolve in tears
but i cannot and think it such a shame
they can't look beyond their tiny spheres
but if i could the secret of such trips unlock
and sent them back they'd all die from the shock

life is so simple when you're swift and young
black's black white's white and that they say is that
the simple thoughts come tripping off glib tongue
they'll fix the world's problems in nothing flat
i think of all the men and women hung
by lynch mobs for what was just back-chat
no need to wonder what they would have done
in those conditions they'd have cried and run

now back to work and then i'll have my lunch
i think about my work and then i think
of those who stand out clearly from the bunch
whose minds grasp problems quicker than a wink
who're starting to see just how an honest hunch
leads to solutions in a fast eyeblink
those are the ones who make me nod and smile
remind me that the task can be worthwhile
fledgist: Me in a yellow shirt. (negative avatar)
the song always brings tears to my eyes
but that's not now there is no time for that
we've got to find the latest-minted lies
or to proclaim that so-and-so's a cat
or praise their new invention to the skies
in instantly forgotten tv chat
just so the masses can feel they have got
a sense that they are owners of the lot

the music changes to a thoughtful note
but will be followed by announcer's speech
she'll give her normal maunderings full throat
but marketing decisions dictate reach
at least she's not a sacrificial goat
or whale that lies deserted on the beach
announcing music's not an easy job
when you've got tons of adjectives to lob

i've got some people for whom i must wait
so i sit here though i have work to do
though they're aware i'm busy they'll be late
it's the same story here the whole day through
the train has always caught them at the gate
though their objective they can clearly view
the sort of thing that we just blame on fate
though when you travel is a thing of choice
such words will not be uttered in my voice

you've got to wonder at the way the sky
seems joyful cloudless a bright clear blue
presaging warmth when that's just a plain lie
this is the kind of weather that brings flu
the frozen air will make you wonder why
you chose to go outside to see the view
or why you cannot on this day just shirk
your obligations and stay home from work

but duty calls and you'll answer her call
to do your job and to complain in quiet
to note the mould that's growing on the wall
and wonder if it'll make you sooner buy it
whether you call the season autumn or fall
you want to do something to defy it
but there's no hope you grimly realise
and all these thoughts just stay behind your eyes

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fledgist: Me in a yellow shirt. (Default)
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