Violent: a poem

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They say the Right is rising
in Europe again. So we don’t look.

Social media and Facebook memes
Soften the hatred, normalise it:

Can’t you take a joke, woman?
Can’t you take a joke, Jew?
Can’t you take a joke you Muslim, you
With your letterbox face?

It’s just a joke isn’t it?
So shut your mouth.
And shut your ears so that the

Snowflakes on snow
Watched through a double glazed window

And news is far away.
A thousand drowned
In the Mediterranean
Where we holiday

Sip cocktails
Sit in the sun with shaded eyes

Read on...

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A thousand drowned on tiny, inadequate boats
Sent by slavers to sink or swim
A child drowns
Because we closed the ports on him.

And news is far away
17 million stare into the red eye of starvation
In a country far away
17 million wait for British made bombs to drop
While the food

How many parents is that
Watching their babies’ stomachs bloat and sag?
Powerless to help
While the
British made bombs
On deaf ears
Beyond the glass.

Because we
Have a piece of paper
To say
Are selling our weapons responsibly

Have assurances
To say

It’s British jobs
British profits

(Though British people
Don’t seem to get them –

Not with
14 million of us
Under the poverty line too)

And I watch that baby
His coiled spring hair
Fighting the agony of his empty stomach

And I watch that baby
His dark, sweet bloated face
Sleeping on the southern Europe shore

And I watch that baby
Her eyes hurting and her face dirty

And I watch my baby –
His eyes, his grin, his face

And think what would I not do
What violence would I
To keep you safe
To keep you safe
In another time and place
That had been you?

What wouldn’t I do
What wouldn’t I do
What don’t we do
Why don’t we do

And my voice breaks
And my head capsizes
It’s too much to take
Too much to accept
Too much

For polite company

Whatever you do, don’t bring down the mood
Whatever you do, don’t upset the peace
Whatever you do, don’t use your power

Don’t protest
There’s no need to get distressed
No need
To get violent.

So I stuff my protesting hands in my pockets
And I pull a coin for a collection box.
I shrug my collar to my ears against the
Storm of noise and screams and terror

And say nothing
And do nothing
And feel


And my silence
Is violence.


Featured image: pxhere

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