Peter Branson

This Life

A wife, two sons, grandchildren he adores;
a touch of gas, light fingerprint, no more;
makes shoes and thrives to face retirement age;
marries at twenty four. This is a life
well spent - and yet, one stroll in no man’s land,
the harpies’ wail a constant, direful tune,
crows dance in frail limelight before his eyes;
no Blighty kiss, ‘Whiz-bang!’ an’ marrow-less -
nor that but this, a fate played out in some
adjacent universe: no duke gets shot;
both camps, a century past Waterloo,
pull back, take on each other’s point of view;
no over-in-six-weeks to end-all guff;
no Nazi party, fuehrer, no ‘Mein Kampf’,
Depression, Reparation, Holocaust;
no ‘In the field of human conflict stuff;
no ‘Causes of the First World War, discuss’,
no mushroom cloud, Cold War, bad history books.
Grained prints expose rain shadows of the truth,
like names engraved on marble cenotaphs -
“Don’t fuss,” the sergeant says, “Die like a man!” -
expendable as blanks, by bullet, shell,
bayonet or gas, self-harm, the clap, slow walk
at dawn - wide eyed, these silent, flickering ghosts.

Turn, Turn, Turn
“The key to the future is finding the optimistic stories and
letting them be known.”
Pete Seeger, 1919 - 2014

You sing for Ho, John Henry, Irene, old
Joe Clark; blacklisted, never cross clear lines
you’ve drawn, pro union rights and ban the bomb,
what’s held in trust. You take an axe to Bob:
“Truth’s in the words,” you say. “There’s no shortcuts.”
Great man, can’t lie to you, like Orwell’s tramp,
affected, Eton-caste, though all you say
rings true, too smooth for me, that voice don’t suit.
No Woody, hard-nose, sour as coffee-grounds,
you sweeten folk, yet when it really counts,
no compromise, your heart Clearwater sound.
At peace inside, Digger and Leveller,
Christian and communard combined, you rhyme,
nudge hope to life, raise ghosts for modern times.

Peter Branson © 2014

Which Side Are You On?

There’ll come a change of tide ‘n’ tithe,
When we’ll be forced to choose a side.
So: which side are you on, friend, which side?

When money’s tight, jobs on the line,
Those bankers, they’re still doing fine.
So: which side are you on, friend, which side?

Our National Health they’ve undermined,
They’ll skim the cream off, privatise.
So: which side are you on, friend, which side?

Our trains, electric, water, gas,
We’ll have to fight to wrest those back.
So: which side are you on, friend, which side?

For reasons we don’t understand,
We’re killing folk in far off lands.
So: which side are you on, friend, which side?

They’ve put our planet in a mess,
The world we know is under threat.
So: which side are you on, friend, which side?

We’ve always been a mongrel race,
It’s why we’re handy, in your face.
So: which side are you on, friend, which side?

So Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jew,
To free the time, it’s down to you.
So: which side are you on, friend, which side?
Which side are you on, now, which side?

Peter Branson © 2014