Peter Branson

Red Shift

'Neither a borrower nor a lender be' (Hamlet)


Before this latest mess they badgered us

to use their cards, take out those "Own-your-own

home" loans. Phone call, spam mail or snail, imprint,

TV; end of the day, we fall. Roll up:

"It trickles down, prosperity, so all

do well, d'you see." Ring out that tired theme tune.

Don't tell us when they've taken out their share,

there'll be just bare bones there for you and me.


They bind us to them heart and mind, refine

with clever marketing how we consume,

when, what and where, control our spending lives.

If they could knock them out, they'd steal our souls;

bankrupt, buy out and asset-strip whole third

estate. The bubble burst, it's panic time.

There are no gay Antonios about

to bail you out before their ships come in.


No comfort blanket, see. Not how it's done

these days. Once you're destabilized, may be

too late; the toy balloon, inflated, grasped

by finger tips, released. No siren's raised;

no fire engine, police car or ambulance,

that drop in pitch to signify you've flipped,

blue chip to sheer insolvency, worn out

your credit-rating stations-of-the-shop.


Micawber's hope that "Something will turn up"

simply won't do in this brave virtual age.

They'll goose you while you're healthy, salmon-pink,

try not to drain you dry; gentled you cope.

Red shift: you're irredeemable so can't

catch up. They take the reins: "The deal was all

explained to you before you signed. See there,

small print, the bottom of the page." No change.


They charge-you-till-you-bleed and when you do,

they seize what they already own: buy now -

pay later stuff, your car, your home. You're in

a mental Marshalsea. They're in control.

"I'm being reasonable. Don't take that tone

with me. It's here in black and white. What's that?

You didn't realise? Why? Can't you read?

Those tears won't wash. There's nothing I can do."


Peter Branson © 2008

Cappuccino Smile

The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude - George Orwell, 'Why I Write'.


Young Costa girl

with fashionable dreadlocks

and early morning eyes

sits down, no customers

about, asks what

you write: a poem

on 'Tollpuddle',

at least you're trying to.

"They pay the minimum,

this lot. No unions here";

melt-water over stone.

The coffee bar warms up

so she must leave,

missing your mulled

apology by miles.


Robbed of their common wealth,

farm workers starve

on seven bob a week.

These fields were hedged with greed.

No combination laws,

the charge is fixed and primed:

transported seven years,

but not for what's been done

and said, grapeshot across

the bows. "The Safety of

the country is at stake,"

the Judge points out.

In 1984,

"The enemy within",

life imitated art.


Peter Branson © 2008