Sceptical Poem

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[A poem from my last collection, Requiem (Picaro Press New Work 2012). The shot of the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo was taken at Bundanoon railway station early one morning in 2011]

Sceptical Poem

The time comes when you have to start again
Though Dr Dog wants to return to his vomit
And lovers of change include the worst of men.
Ah, human nature! There is so much of it
That the papers flaunt our folly every day,
But should I listen to what the papers say?
– Chris Wallace-Crab, Sonnet XXVII, Modern Times

At times the tides of bleakness,
total scepticism & despair
roll in with all the abstract force
of moon & history as waves
of revolutions show us at our best
& worst, ecstasy, massacres,
personal pay-back, mob hysteria
& the eternal dreary power quest
by those made powerless by
privilege or all the varied wounds
& grindings of the family machine
as militants prove ministers in lieu
& Jesus just another Judas too.

Or else, marooned, you tell yourself
of your own privilege of class
& idleness, worried airy farce
of nothings divorced from sweat
as the dismal inner repertoire trips
lightly into guilt & smells the scent
of its selfsame self in all loud Left
slogans left like driftwood on the shore.

Perhaps, you think, all this warm
belief just pious projection, mirage,
loud longing to drown out doubt
or fear of dropping into a triage
of rescue, indifference, certain loss
while workers simply work on
at keeping their heads over dross
or interest rates & you’re told
displaced & starving Indian tribal
women who sleep for safety
in nocturnal woods, by day
returning to villages pillaged, raped
by militias armed by the state
& salivating capital, stride strong
with some miracle of smiling pride
& hope, shouldering their guns
while they’re hunted down as
terrorists who see the ancient forests
as their own & have no enlightened
interest in the sub-sylvan bauxite
& iron ore that gird our deadly
affluence with their tight & mental
corsets of flicker, fun & shine

(I note the green guerrilla among the trees
for these women also smiles escape
to a new Eden of armed égalités
the law of village patriarchy forbids…)

Are you then a pacifist because
all guns make you nervous even
when you’re just out shooting
the cute rabbits or feral birds
that destroy your orchard
yet know full well the starving
cannot go on hunger strike
& mass civil disobedience
needs a stage & audience
missing from the invisible
theatre of cruelty perpetrated
daily on the poorest of the poor
by all the crushing might
of The Way Things Are
where you’re embedded
like a planet on its wired run
around a sun not of your making
but centripetal to your wealth.

You avow the cliché that violence
is never the answer even as
you also know your freedoms
were born in blood & the throw
of some chancy genetic dice
means you do not have to choose
between death & buying
a Kalashnikov, starving & obedience
to the whip of state or wealth,
your choices simpler like merlot
or shiraz, channel two or ten,
fear, hope that small flame flickering
sceptically under history’s roar
like some feint requiem
from that deep & unknown sea
within beyond the masks of time
where all are always free.

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~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on January 21, 2013.

2 Responses to “Sceptical Poem”

  1. Beautiful Peter. Thought I was reading about myself to my dismay,

    Or else, marooned, you tell yourself
    of your own privilege of class
    & idleness, worried airy farce
    of nothings divorced from sweat
    as the dismal inner repertoire trips
    lightly into guilt & smells the scent
    of its selfsame self in all loud Left
    slogans left like driftwood on the shore.

    Had to catch myself by the end. Nearly tears!

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