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