Philip Ruthen

Election Day

When the election comes -

Yes, there will be one -

As we have a Bill of Rights

Maybe even a Constitution…

In a cool air-conditioned room

(No smoke, democracy has seen to that)

They search

For a slogan

“heidegger heidegger heidegger”?

Not so catchy; trying

“education education education”?

Keep it simple, very selective.

In mind, the girl

With ‘an education’ turns

Nervous, her first break,

Her leotard uncomfortable

As ribbons replace bombs.

There are still bombs.

And the posters go up

With the absolute message -

No point arguing -

“Sartre has Gone”.

Cautious, he covers his closure,

The PR consultants

Re-write with nausea

The moral tales

Before the war

Before the wars

Before more wars

And there are still bombs.

The posters go up -

A distant relation

Of a distant man

Depicting and


She lies on the billboard



There are smart bombs, depleted, perhaps -

Very smart,




Half a life left -

They say: “you must be weak to aim for a fullness of life,

the dispersal of divisions”.


To the other strains of an argument

Instantaneous images become almost alive

Alive - as we are able -

Her breasts painted red

Draw us in


And we know we can

Do anything

As if God was now and new bombs

Will always be better than the times that were bad.

Tomorrow and before are now slogans,



I choose my one book

I hide it

Maybe it was Gramsci, Marcuse, Freud, The Bible,

Half a life left, and, “you can go”, they say,

“try and think there are no bombs,

just fragments of a pragmatic imagination...”

“and oh, avoid using the term ‘socialist’, even when pressed

by the BBC,

yes, especially by the BBC”.

But I can’t wait to throw away the silver pieces -

Buy my Reserva case of European Red instead and scream:

So put the fucking money into

Education Education Education -

Maybe then we won’t be

Killing ourselves.

Philip Ruthen © 2009

Tour de grace

i.  I am hollows, rugged

affinity, Pelops

ii.  Outlined pure colour

tone of your eyes

I wake then

abandon my thoughts

this mind a fifth of a score or more

lies with you highwire of balance

iii.  Island verge

the rock leans on a spar

above concentration

inside the wind’s blur

of deception solid

blatant sea rock

rises unfixed if you stare

your soul lent

to unweight Poseidon

the high seas’


has seen you before, precept

on the clouds’

summer possible

up and opening the fulcrum God’s flare

the Sun makes its own sky

prises the hill

fists day in a ball

of red that carries longer


it knows

even a mist won’t lift mountains

the sea has its mass

it can, in a Mother’s thoughts that separate

the numbers

iv.  At birth

each child shall have a tree planted

will you give your last water to the tree?

it will remember

v.  In soil sought by creation her lullaby

one day you are moisture

become the eye of quartz

ingrained in the gaudy head-dress

of a lizard

roots deepen to you swept from the whispered spray

of the Meltemi’s tail

dampness in dust following

and falling on another world –


Somewhere and further than imagined by God.

Water from a rusted fuel can

discarded spatula, lawn hose

or borehole

elevated to silence.

The outcrop on a blanket of foam

above storm-drain force that topples the undersea deities

the rocks are momentarily above air across the bay and it is the season’s tonal blues that have realised earth was before unfound


the quayside crane

loads every distant-heard trade

tour – the page shows tourist;

the law of historical memory

on the floor of a crate

lifted to hang over the ship’s hold

the buried are the land of grace

for grace –

be still. To water three seeds

scarce-doused from a bottle.

let them pass

to find more.

vi.  This guidebook, a present

opened before closed

without a view until

there is another now

telling, no name

on the retina for seven billion colours detected

all may be blue,

remembered, invented hills

let the outline last

the island rides

soft on the fulcrum

given watch for Poseidon’s cloud-boom

leaves the Pelops to brief dream that

all isn’t one.

We will be back to swim.

Philip Ruthen. From an idea of Maggie’s also;

Nafplio, Greece. 10th-28th August 2009

Philip Ruthen © 2009