Peter Branson

For Tony Benn

You told it how it is, a money world
that doesn’t work for most, all double think
and spin. My question, did you go too far
or not half far enough? A lifebelt in
a sea of sharks, what use is that? They love
you now. Their Fool, you never stood a chance.

September 15th 2011

Take feral youth, down-sized by school, instil
deep regimental pride, Afghanistan,
Helmand, where body parts of royal marines
are hung from trees. Desensitise, force feed,
add mindless drill. Rewired, weapon in hand,
live anger in the breech, democracy’s
at work, the dirty side, bile in his craw,
hair-trigger primed. Strong blood, let off the hook,
he goofs, cries “Shuffle off this mortal coil,
you cunt!” , erodes your moral ascendancy.
Outlaw inspired, like Batman books, , wolf’s head,
you hang him out to dry, the text he’s blogged
for mates back home, regurgitated dark
text file, apocryphal, pure Hollywood.

“Lions after slumber”
For Maxine Peake, who read ‘The Mask of Anarchy’
in Manchester, 2013

D’you recognise them, university?
They’re playing hunt the beggar, light cigars -
“It’s only money” - festival of fools.
Their greed’s a virtue: let me get this right,
one day, if we don’t kick against the pricks,
no promises, some scraps may fall our way.
What price our hopes, our punctured commonweal,
our national health? We bleed, a thousand cuts.
They lay the blame on us. We foot the bill,
bankers who bring this ogre to its knees
get pensioned off. We do their dirty work
abroad, come back in body-bags, no clue,
rhyme, reason why. These thoughts in mind, recall
the poesy, “Ye are many - they are few”.

Peter Branson © 2014


Nr Caerphilly, Aber Valley, Glamorgan, 14th Oct, 1913

For Jack Micklewright and Mick Pickering

For golden treasury laid down
three hundred million years ago,
lost souls, defying Nature’s spite
and gravity, the heat and dark,
toiled underground. Same blokes got docked
full pay because they didn’t work
whole shift that day. The manager
and owners, who defied the law,
were fined, fire-dust they failed to damp-
down tinder-dry, twenty-four quid
in all. Time haunts this site with wraith
and rhyme, black faces, voices, runes
of night. By now, there’s little left
to tell you, as you read this place,
long fingerprint impressed in sand,
part of an open hand outstretched
when Googled up, via satellite,
you’re walking over battleground.
They say the valley shook, blast heard
as far away as Cardiff, on
the morning dirty air caught fire
below, whole families of men,
proud rugby teams, loud chapel choirs,
consumed, an open-furnace sky,
false dawn, turned purgatory to hell
on earth. “I felt a hand, a face,
scarf tight to nose and mouth, just like
a shroud.” The pithead‘s levelled, gone
for scrap, the heaps of slag above
the villages long carted off,
post Aberfan. All’s change. Should we
be glad, jobs moved, community
bypassed? Life’s far less dangerous
these days, yet still too cheap. He loved
his job, post NCB, now wheel-
chair bound, each vertebrae a botched
tattoo, lungs like spilt milk. Not black
and white. Fuel costs the Earth. Now all
that’s left are graves, same date revealed,
a Coventry or Passchendaele.

Peter Branson © 2014