War on Terra

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I wrote the following in October 2001 as a response to the previous month’s events.

I was sat in a bar in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand while scenes of armies being mobilised were being broadcast on the television and started scribbling some notes.

At the time it was unclear exactly how things would pan out, but with George W Bush about to invade Afghanistan, things weren’t going to end well. And nor have they.

In 2005, I ended up working in a rinky dink TEFL school in Daegu, South Korea. I was totally alone and friendless in the city, so emailed someone on a bulletin board who said that, as a British guy, he was always happy to meet fellow Brits in Daegu for a beer.

When I met up with him, one of the first things he said was, “Ah, you’re the one who writes subversive poetry, aren’t you?”

I said, “What- you googled me, did you?”

He said, “Google- what’s that?”

I said, “Well, it’s a search engine.”

He said, “No, no, I didn’t “google” you. Actually I work for MI6. Why, you may ask, would I be telling you this? Well, maybe it’s a double bluff. Or even a triple bluff.”

To be honest, what I was actually wondering was why an MI6 agent would be working at a hagwon (Korean term for a private education institute) in the ass end of nowhere. He told me he was moonlighting. Being of Russian descent, there wasn’t much doing at the time, he claimed (though he’s probably a bit busier these days- provided of course he wasn’t just some bullshit arsehole- the world is full of them!).

“Yes, we checked your background quite thoroughly,” he said. “Interesting chap. A few questions were raised, naturally, given some of your views. But we think you’re alright, basically.”

Funnily enough, after a few hours in his company, I thought he was a bit of a cock. But, again, I kept that to myself.

“We didn’t understand the ending of the poem, however. Could you explain it, do you think?”

Sadly, I couldn’t. And even if I could , its message is for those who are beyond security, control and power plays.

–  –  –

So bring on the ‘planes
that bring down the towers
nothing’s the same
all’s hearts and flowers
while we go insane
counting the hours
until the next wave
of emergency powers

“This is” they said
“War on Terra”
which fills me with dread
-maybe my error
but George Dubya’s dead
eyes stare blank as a mirror
while Blair bobs his head
and the Pope gently quivers

And so we must ask
who is bad guy and good
who’s Sherriff of Nottingham
who’s Robin Hood;
When push comes to shove
who’s the Man in the ‘hood?

And when we decide
who to boo who to back
we will split and divide
and devise and attack
and be fuelled by the lies
that keep us on track
while the rich and their spies
just laugh at our backs.

We don’t like the taste
but we like to see blood
on the screen, laying waste
while we’re washing down bud.

How different to haste
-driven trenches in mud.

And those in the know
say please go and shop
take your part in the show
or the economy will stop.
And those in the know
also tell us that God
is running the show
which I find rather odd.

And the flames of the fire
will fan out and burn
until we get higher
until we learn
we have just one desire
to return to our home.

Until then,
keep in mind it’s a game
don’t think ‘Us & Them’
when we’re all just the same
we are born and we live,
eat, fuck, shit, pass away
it is all ours to give
or take away
we choose how we live
day by day
beyond all this
what can we say?

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