Monday, 29 April 2013

Poem In Which I Give James Reilly Some Constructive Suggestions

Dr. James Reilly, pictured, is currently experiencing what might be described as certain difficulties.

Yesterday, the following appeared in The Sunday Times:

the Fine Gael health minister proposes a panel of two obstetricians and four psychiatrists - one of whom must be a perinatal psychiatrist – to assess a woman who is seeking an abortion on the grounds of suicide ideation…there are only three  perinatal psychiatrists in the country”.

This leaked announcement has, surprisingly enough, not been met with universal approval.

In my new poem 'Alternative Proposals', just published on Irish Left Review, I make some constructive suggestions as to other ways in which the esteemed Dr. Reilly might proceed.

The poems has also been published today on Mick Wallace's website


You can read Darrell Kavanagh's foreword and John Goodby's introduction

Now available as an ebook, the book that made political waves in 2012.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Eamon Gilmore, Michael O'Leary and the late Bettino Craxi

It was suggested in the Dáíl today that Labour Party Leader, Tánaiste & Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore should consider following the example of his predecessor, Michael O’Leary, who moved on from the half-way house that is being in coalition with Fine Gael and actually joined Fine Gael in October 1982.

Michael O’Leary who was, as far as we know, no relation to Ryanair’s esteemed CEO, was one of those great unheroic figures.

While Mr O’Leary was leader of the Irish Labour Party (1981-82) his counterpart in Italy was Bettino Craxi, leader of the Italian Socialist Party, whose political end was even more ignominious. 
Below is the elegy I wrote when Bettino Craxi died, back in the year two thousand. It was originally published on Irish Left Review to celebrate the entry of Eamon Gilmore’s Labour Party into this most recent coalition.

                      Elegy for Bettino Craxi (1934-2000)
                      - Bettino Craxi was leader of the Italian Socialist Party and Prime Minister.  
                                He went  into exile in 1994 following an investigation into corruption allegations
                                and died in Tunisia.

                      Poor Bettino Craxi, you’ve been taken to your grave
                      and we won’t see your likes again.
                      Your social democratic bones were barely cold
                      when your obituaries began to bitch.
                      All week long it’s been bitch, bitch, bitch.
                      But the rabble who’ve dragged your name through dirt
                      wouldn’t know justice if it wrapped them up,
                      all nice and safe, in a concrete overcoat.

                      From that hot night at the Hotel Midas, Rome
                      when you first got your paws on the laurels of office
                      you were guilty of nothing but doing the unthinkable
                      so loud, the voters heard about it.
                      You made quick work of the hammer and sickle:
                      “Outdated, misplaced, irrelevant to the real needs.”
                      Your single red carnation had such style
                       it made Blair and Mandelson cry.

                       Done with ideology, it was time
                       to bring on the dwarves, the dancing girls.
                       You gave them what they wanted,
                       filled the party with the people
                       any realist must do business with.
                       Pop intellectuals joined dubious financiers
                       and bogus architects. Oprah Winfrey
                       met Bernie Madoff in a house designed
                       by Ruari Quinn, and talked Italian for a bit
                       with the more vulgar fringes of the new rich.

                      Too many workers’ representatives
                      settle for just a share of the profits.
                      You weren’t satisfied with a bigger slice.
                      You took the lot, and kept it all for yourself.
                      And we will see your likes again.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The Continuing Story of Galloway (sorry that should be Galway) Alliance Against War

Conspiracy theories are all the rage. Conspiracy theorists are people who credit the political establishment with far more intelligence than it actually possesses. Some believe that the same U.S. government (Richard Nixon's), which got into such a mess when they spectacularly failed to cover up Watergate, somehow managed to, first, stage a fake moonlanding and, then, to get both the Soviet Union and China to go along with this. Many conspiracy theorists are just plain dumb. You might want to pause from reading this for a moment to watch a relevant clip from the film Blazing Saddles. 

Others are not so dumb, just happy to give a platform to any idea, however batty, if doing so appears, in the short run, to further their general agenda. Which brings me to the latest escapade of the boys and girls of Galway Alliance Against War.

According to today's Galway Advertiser:

"Explosive Evidence - Experts Speak Out, a controversial new American documentary on the September 11 2001 attacks on New York, is to be screened in Galway.

The Galway Alliance Against War will screen the documentary on Monday at 8pm in Richardson’s, Eyre Square.

The documentary revisits 9/11 and questions the official explanation for the collapse of the Twin Towers. It has received public support from Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant secretary of the US Treasury and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal.

Some years ago, architect Richard Gage formed Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. They have studied the plans of the towers which were constructed to withstand airliner hits and fires. In this film however they argue that there is no credible explanation for the collapse of the towers except intentional demolition."

The implication here is that 9/11 was an inside job; that the only people who could have brought down the Twin Towers were the U.S. government.

The late Adolf Hitler and friends used to put it about that the Russian Revolution was brought about by a Jewish conspiracy involving an unlikely coalition of Bolsheviks and Wall Street bankers. It was an obvious lie. But tens of millions believed it.

The idea that the murder of almost 3,000 people in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania on Tuesday, September 11th, 2001 was an inside job, carried out by elements withing the U.S. government, is a similarly obvious lie, which only the intellectually sick would give credence to.

The fact that Galway Alliance Against War are happy to give such a film as this an apparently uncritical screening is proof, if it were needed, that they are indeed that intellectually sick.

I dedicate this poem, which first appeared in The Galway Advertiser a couple of years back, to the idiocy of Galway Alliance Against War, which no doubt someone considers useful.

                                          My Inner Conspiracy Theorist

                                  Doesn’t believe his own birth cert is genuine,
                                  finds Charlie Sheen’s most recent
                                  speech from the balcony strangely
                                  plausible; knows – the way all those Israelis knew
                                  not to come into work that day – that swine flu
                                  was manufactured in a laboratory funded
                                  by Donald Rumsfeld, today’s weather forecast
                                  is a wicked lie, the dandelions exploding
                                  up through his otherwise well kept lawn
                                  were planted there by government agents
                                  who lurk in the shrubbery at night,
                                  that the Department of Agriculture laces
                                  the sheep dip with weapons grade
                                  plutonium to hide the fact
                                  he himself is actually
                                  dead, assassinated years ago
                                  by US special forces
                                  during an otherwise enjoyable meal
                                  in a Chinese restaurant
                                  no one wants to talk about.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

'This puts a question mark over / Thatcher,' I told you.

Margaret Thatcher's death last Monday has provoked waves of nostalgia and hatred in Britain.

Without Thatcher, I'm not sure I would have gotten involved in politics, as I did, when I was fifteen years old. Much terrible stuff would have been avoided. But also I'd never have gotten to be part of the anti-poll tax movement, which was certainly a great thing to be involved in; no regrets about that.

These days I am self employed, and can't really deny that I'm now part of the world which her policies brought into being.

Below is a poem I wrote a few years back. Thatcher was always going to lose the next election. Except she never did.

               “As an ex-member of the Militant Tendency I wanted to bring down the State
               that most people supported. I'm glad the likes of me … were prevented from
               doing so … Thank you Special Branch.” (Stephen Brent, Chichester, on the BBC website.)

              1981. Capitalism was a Dimplex heater
              with a broken switch. We'd
              rush across the greasiest Formica,
              the nastiest carpet to agree with each other
              and cheer the news: redundancies rocket,
              stock markets on the floor.

              'Another Tory government
              is out of the question,' you told me.
              It was February, 1982. The daffodils
              couldn't have cared less.

              'This puts a question mark over
              Thatcher,' I told you.
              It was November, 1989. Hailstones
              on Stoke Newington High Street.

             Today, we meet with a history
             of fried bread and picket lines
             behind us. We believed in each other.
             Now, it's a hundred years

             since those afternoons
             full of sunlight and clenched fists
             when – in miners' strikes and poll-tax riots –
             we were like boys playing
             in hoped for snow.
This poem is also published here in the American current affairs magazine Dissent
and is included in my 2010 collection Frightening New Furniture,
which is available from Salmon Poetry.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher: She Whipped Our Asses (And Not In A Good Way)

The death today of Margaret Thatcher has provoked much bile and attempts at celebration from those who were/are on the left politically and so opposed her every step of the way. Truth is Thatcher is hated precisely because she was so amazingly successful and achieved far more of her agenda than anyone would have dreamed possible when she became leader of the Conservative Party in 1975.

Thatcher whipped the asses of the left and the trade unions, and not in a way that was at all pleasurable to any bar the most hardened masochists.

We did return the serve nicely with the campaign against the poll tax.

But it was too little, too late.


                                                 Like falling down several flights of stairs now
                                                 to a world gone as the Brixton riots
                                                 or “Maggie! Maggie! Maggie! Out! Out! Out!”
                                                 Our answers easy and fast as fish ‘n chips twice
                                                 at the end of the night. Unanimity, as ever,
                                                 on the mathematical impossibility of you
                                                         twenty years on
                                                 giving the lawn
                                                 its requisite short-back-and-sides,
                                                 the gardens of Littlehampton all
                                                 standing to attention by the rich
                                                 green Lord Tennyson sea.

from Time Gentlemen, Please (Salmon Poetry, 2008)