Peter Branson

Lethal Cargo

The Guardian newspaper,

Thursday, 14th May, 2009

You taste that spice-fugue air before the birds

cry “Land ahoy!” Once manufacturies

exchanged for ivory or slaves, now trade’s

in First World dodgy stuff disguised as slops.

No joke stink-bombs or dirty water flushed

from tanks, two tonnes of toxic gas, enough,

if fly-tipped in Trafalgar Square, to lay

millions of people low, ‘The Guardian’ swears.

With thirty thousand shipwrecked, some expired.

Executives refute blame, say it’s up

to folk to prove each case before they’ll pay.

Yet they’ve flown victims out by business class,

dumped them in luxury hotels; no graft

involved, the company swears blind, just chat.

The Late Abortionist

For George Tiller, Wichita, Kansas,  ‘09

Tied, tossed aside like puppies in a sack,

urge to survive, flailing, to swim against

the tide, abortionist, reluctant host.

Who’s paramount? Impossible, you think,

but what is certain is it’s dire to kill

a doctor doing what he feels is right,

within the letter of the law or not,

beneath the mantel of Christ crucified.

Next night outside the church where he was shot,

they held a vigil under candlelight.

What of the witch-finders who stir up beasts

with twisted desperate minds, cry wolves who howl

“Mass murderer!” dry tears about “Death camps”,

perpetuate such awful sacrifice?

Peter Branson © 2009


‘Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life ... , protection of parents and school and policemen and the law.’ (‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding)

April 2009


Like yesterday, loud as a photograph,

your cameo from 1968:

‘Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh. We will fight and we

will win’,  proud mantle you still shelter in.

Soon as the coppers charged, the marchers fled

towards Hyde Park. One raised his truncheon: eyes

reflect your gaze each time you look, two girls

in tow, crouching, startled, behind your back.

He sets himself to strike, but when you don’t

raise hands, resist, propriety makes him

a man again. Beyond his friends, he leaves

to source a hooligan he can subdue.

Something invisible yet sacrosanct,

of home and neighborhood, has held him back.


‘He isn’t breathing!’ Hospital pronounce

him dead at 8pm. Just before noon,

the four horsemen of the apocalypse

in tow, jazz bands and jugglers entertain

6,000 protesters, 5,000 police.

With Tony Benn, purple smoke bombs, pink paint,

"Build a bonfire, stick bankers on the top,"

all’s in good part. Huge rabbit’s dragged away;

surreal; three people charged, one with assault.

Some go too far, hiding their number tags,

like 1984. Strangers rehearsed,

bussed in, well up for it, like storm troopers,

drumming adrenalin on double time,

blitz quiet South Yorkshire villages, smash doors

and furniture, terrorize miners wives.

Peter Branson © 2009