A poem of the year is painfully self-revealing. The poet’s sense of humour, politics, and perceptions of the world are cruelly transfixed in the crosshairs of evolving, forced creativity – or so the theory goes. The temptation to go back and rewrite is hard to resist.
It was the late and incredibly great Mr. Clive James who said, “it’s unpredictability that makes writing a poem of the year so irresistible”. He was right. This verse chronicle should unfold daily, capturing the wrinkles of the world around us in ottava rima – using 10 or 11 syllables in each line, more or less. Some days there’ll be one verse, others there’ll be two; when the muse bunks off I’ll do my best to catch up.
Much like Mr. James, the aim is to keep the work light. Unlike Mr. James, I have no editors or readers to pick holes in the veracity or quality of these poetic threads. Lucky me.
While Swedish aphorisms miss their mark
And barricades bring Baghdad to its knees,
Smoke-filled skies turn the daylight into dark.
Marsupials burn in eucalyptus trees.
No grand fire works without a trail of sparks,
Jools’s Big Band cannot put us at our ease.
Who gives two hoots for Hootenanny nannies.
Who’ve curfewed all the local Scottish grannies.
From Mustique, where he is on his holidays.
de Pfeffel sends us his finest fond regards
Picasso’s lover offends a vandal’s gaze,
A woman’s bust is defaced and left with scars.
When Francis slaps a woman’s hand away,
Il Papa has his reputation marred.
Still, down under, in an up-and-over fire,
Australians face a catastrophic pyre.
Though personal data should be kept anon,
A bot can check now for cancer in my breast.
The Nissan boss has escaped to Lebanon,
He’ll face the music, his song is by request.
A true vegan to a Norwich court has gone,
His true beliefs and philosophy to test.
Sky lanterns fall. They ignite a German zoo.
Too much on fire. Maybe Dante’s got a clue.
The Donald has called an airstrike on Baghdad,
The whole Twittersphere erupts in mock surprise,
Remembering Franz, the Archduke Ferdinand,
As the General, Qasem Soleimani, dies.
Oh, the humanity; seeing good in bad.
Oh, the insanity; chasing votes with lies.
The stain on stars and stripes is more than just crude.
Democracy is trumped. Allied troops are screwed.
Westminster stirs and the team has a new theme,
The Dom has written a blog to find recruits,
He wants misfits and weirdos on his core team,
Instead of bored, straight-laced civil service suits,
The Lib Dems, seeking something more mainstream,
Make headlines out of Pan’s forbidden fruit,
And unassuming Meat Loaf, still quite able,
Takes burning bridges back to Trump’s top table.
Tomorrow, the tribes return to work again,
Lethargic, depressed, and full of Twixtmas food,
The excess of ChrimboLimbo seems insane,
While food bank policies scream ineptitude.
Elections should change this, democracy ordains.
But no, here comes Labour, with a new internal feud.
Damn myopic politics, still so aplenty.
We’re only five days in to twenty-twenty.
There goes Ricky, cracking jokes at their expense;
A golden monologue though the truth does hurt,
Meanwhile Trump, and so presumably Mike Pence,
Tweets an announcement that puts troops on alert.
Fifty-two targets are his cultured offence,
A war crime in the making, sanity girt,
Tears of an ayatollah in grief are shed.
A nation in mourning for a hero, dead.
The National Archives are changing the way
They let people order which items to see.
Just twenty-four items to view in one day
Will set back all research on our history
Conspiracy theorists says this is foul play,
By consultants who charged a nominal fee.
Our future depends on our records, amassed.
There’s so very much to learn from the past.
Lipreading firemen of Ozzie persuasion
Is rough when all they want is lots more rainfall.
Still, star-studded backlash is quite a big thing
And reviews of Joaquin’s tux were so painful.
Perspective. We all need a new plaything.
Defective. Our media is disdainful.
That funeral, so marred by forty deaths.
Makes ’New European’ is an old shibboleth.
The President steps out to fanfares and cheers,
Like an Apprentice who has won this week’s task,
De-escalation speeches fall on deaf ears,
So Baghdad’s new Green Zone gets rocketed fast,
Iran won’t release Boeing’s black box for years.
Despite the suspicions about missile blasts.
Meanwhile, MPs declare their four-clause intent.
Fuck sovereignty. Business. Workers. And students.
Harryverderci, Sussex. So badly done.
At least get a listing on HeirB’n’B.
It’s hard being a fresh Prince, the second son.
And Windsors have poor form with shock mutinies,
Her Majesty did not deserve to be shunned,
Beware: it is the press who shape legacies.
’Suited and booted’ – just one headline unused.
I do wonder if this has been well thought through.
The wolf moon. A penumbral lunar eclipse
Looks down on nations that will not compromise
Until they are all agreed on the same scripts
For Iran’s acts one, two, three, four, and five.
A shroud of deceit, the new apocalypse
Is a commitment to truth that deals in lies.
One rocket. One flight. How long could they fake
The fact that they’ve made a horrendous mistake?
Confirmed. I called it. Even Canada knew.
The innocent sacrifice was plain to see.
By contrast, a war film is getting previews
That nod toward Oscars and ceremonies.
A new Sultan lives, but the sadness is news
Of a great Sultan’s death. No hyperbole.
Qaboos poured oil on Oman’s troubled waters.
Middle Eastern mourners. Sons and daughters.
A world apart, Slovenia, and the dawn
Of days exploring old and broken places;
Tuning in on the longest wave to foregone
Conclusions about far-distant faces.
Bunkers and alpine retreats the denouement
For partisans taking up arms in tight places.
War by any means, by mistake or through tricks,
Is the continuation of politics.
Nothing to show for trekking up to a church
Except, perhaps, respect for the memory
Of men who found peace as they led the search
For an end to war, treason and treachery.
Javorca, surrounded by mountains and birch
Trees witness to horror, now silent in reverie.
Unaccessible in winter, thanks to snow,
The only way here is on a deathtrap road.
Now back in the room, and back here in Blighty,
I’m reminded that our history is painted
In crimson shades, changing, as men with flighty
Recollections of what happened – much tainted
And taunted by their own fears – far too tightly
Twist the truth, becoming opinionated
On the right of the right to exercise views
On what should happen, and where, when, and to whom.
Speaking of which, here comes the new Labour left,
Trying to reform a party in disgrace;
Devoid of focus on policy, bereft
Of strategy and yet still trying to place
A star at the despatch box, someone with heft
Who can go toe to toe with Johnson at pace.
Infighting, backbiting, trying to find votes;
Union-baiting, speechmaking: nothing of note.
There are a few days scribble on bits of notepaper here… got some catching up to do.
The cost is disputed for ringing a bell,
It matters little who’s actually to blame,
The point is this: there’s so much we have to tell
The next generation about this great shame.
Big Ben will stay silent, no liberty bell
Can peal back the remaining sense of great blame.
The deadline may loom for tax, and for Brexit.
But I can’t see us making a smooth exit.
How much is freedom really worth? 50p?
In all the chaos of votes in the chamber,
No-one thought how disrespectful it would be
To then omit a comma, a reminder
Of dignity – tossed – after ‘prosperity’.
Punctuate badly, do, but please remember
Peace and friendship with all nations. To rejoin
We will have to state our worth with more than coin.
Incremental death is rife in China,
Viral flu – a crowning of sorts, and the end
of pride, perhaps, in communist hardliners.
Putting up walls, their sanctity to defend;
Deadly illness can’t be kept in a minor
Report of local colds. Reach out to your friends.
Tell us how we can help you; bring out your dead;
We must quell this pandemic before it spreads.
Oh, Kobe. It’s such an out-of-bounds play,
And so many people will remember you
Not for business done on court but off, away
In the land of slam-dunking good things to
Mentor others, building brands in such a way
That you played into the community, too.
Man, you won an Oscar for Dear Basketball.
Tragic and unfair, this early curtain call.
Look back on liberating Bergen-Belsen:
A fine call to arms, twenty-four hours ago.
Look forward to liberation for all men:
A fine ideal and yet, as survivors know,
The far right nears with denial of events
So vivid, so cruel, so damning, so low
That to give them a place in humanity
Is insane: and what passed was insanity.
Today’s news is about Andrew, a fine son,
Stealing the limelight from his nephew’s exit.
Hard to tell if any wrong has been done
As he’s keeping schtum: refusing to leg it
Across the pond as a witness to crimes done.
It’s all quite offensive. Mind you, so’s Brexit.
Oh lawks, it’s only three days ’til disaster.
Still, Trump is proposing peace treaties faster.
Yes, protests get underway in Palestine
as Trump unveils a new ‘two-state solution’.
Netanyahu think’s it’ll all be just fine
But Palestine says it’s still persecution.
A ‘peace initiative’ that draws up new lines
Of ‘capital intent’ – redistribution.
Meanwhile, the UK has said yes to Huawei,
Which will build 5G to help China hearsay.
Who cares. I don’t. I’ve heard the news about trains.
An announcement from that young man Grant Shapps:
Doctor Beeching’s cuts will be cut back again –
With five hundred million up for grabs, perhaps
A network that sees trains run on time again?
Or not. As British Rail, it’s bound to be crap.
Come to think of it, where’s Johnson? What’s his take?
This could be a too-blue-new-choo-choo mistake.
You couldn’t make it up, even if you tried.
Traffic updates say there’s a problem with rail,
Some kind of delay due to Southern landslides,
Which makes landslide blue policy seem to pale
Into insignificance. Commuters, hide
Your eyes, as Northern now confirms it’s failed.
Public ownership, the only way to go.
Never mind. Could be worse. At least there’s no snow.
Pathetic and demeaning, Farage’s speech,
marking the vote to ratify agreement.
Leaving the EU, going unto the breech,
Creating a dark sense of bereavement.
What did we learn? In future, what can we teach?
Could we not have been any more vehement?
So many people with no respect for trade.
Or tariffs. Or borders. Or border blockades.
The airwaves won’t be the same without Parson
Hesitating. Deviating. Repeating.
Williams, Freud, Nimmo, Fry, Jones, and Merton.
Creating, debating, and – sometimes – cheating.
Time flew so fast when just a minute was on.
Fifty years for one game will take some beating.
If they do replace Nicholas, at some length,
They’ll need a chairman of considerable strength.
Oh, the unapproachable Norton!
Administrators called in to pay the bills.
In these financial times, all so uncertain,
I see the company’s wind has blown quite ill.
A new Commando – they need one – to shorten
The balance deficit, start ringing the tills.
Kickbacks, over. A great bike kicks the bucket.
If Norton does goes under, what’s left? Fuck it.
Well that was a shitty birthday and no mistake.
God bless the amazing British NHS,
Primed to take your parents’ troubles far away
Staffed by people who care so much more not less
About real care, and not what HMG says,
Oncology – not a pleasant place – distress
Made less stressful by smiles each step of the way.
I wonder what would happen if certain men
Formed policy via a first-hand regimen.
The forthcoming acquittal is so certain,
Despite the best intentions of Democrats,
The new term ‘Trumpian’ denotes a burden:
Fake democracy, tainted by a welcome mat
Rolled out in the oval office, converting
False policies from their alternative facts.
Impeachment was always a bit premature.
New testimonies will not fly, that’s for sure.