Tag Archives: social realism

Hard Times of Old England

Half of England is waiting on a phone call
to let them know that there’s room at the trough ,
the voice of their Masters telling them
knees are for bending and caps are to doff.

Half of England is waiting to go to work
and be allowed their share of the swill ,
the voice of their Masters telling them
they’ve accepted those terms of their own free will .

Half of England is still waiting on a phone call
to be told where and when to go ,
the voice of their Masters telling them
England is on the road to recovery you know .

Half of England is ingratiatingly grateful for work
though few know the reason why ,
working conditions look all too familiar
like scenes from , ” The Bridge on the River Kwai “.

Politics of Austerity

Our three great Parliamentiary parties

the incompetent , the stupid and the greedy ,

concur that joblessness and poverty

are solely the fault of the needy ;

Government departments with their indifference

misinformation and bureaucratic sloth ,

have decreed that the poor and jobless

can no longer afford to be both ;

Budget cuts here there and everywhere

cuts to top rate taxes amongst others ,

lead us down Wall Street again

to the door of Lehman Brothers .

( Footnote :See also the recent similarly themed poems , “Welfare dependency” and “Economic Crisis” )

Late Autumn

Late autumn –
Evening twilight;
The market lane
herds of shoppers,
In front of her small hut,
she lays the
stainless steel vessels
on the mat…

her hut,
her mat,
her vessels,
her hope –
Autumn ceasing
All over…

Late night –
The lane deepening into
deafening silence;
Spoon by spoon,
tiffin box by tiffin box,
plate by plate,
she carefully places them
inside the jute sack
knowing tomorrow will
dawn again.

The Girl With The Needle in Her Arm

The Girl crouches
by the railings at the
Tube station entrance,
her knees together
mucus running down her chin,
watery eyes
sticky pale skin,
vomit stained hair
hanging down in two
big tangles over her forehead;
The Girl massages her calf and thigh,
her right leg feels bloodless and numb,
her mascara streaked face a mask
where tears were forced out as she spewed;
Above her rainbows strobe across
the tourist postcard skyline,
proclaiming the nomenclature
of aspirational desires,
Apple, Cartier, Chanel, Mercedes-Benz;
The space around the Tube Station
entrance railings is opaque,
no – one sees
no – one wants to see
the Girl’s life exchanged
for an emptiness of nights;
Nights illuminated by gleaming giant screens
all evangelising how,
the Financial Times stock market Index
has just ended the day,
higher .

Boulevard of Broken Dreams

The photographer ” snaps ” her subject ,
Danna ,in front of a shuttered building
at 6323 Hollywood Boulevard ;
Her story is a familiar one ,
the fresh-faced girl who came to
L.A. in hopes of hitting the big-time ,
a time that never was ,
instead there is this time ,
right here and now
lingering in parking lots and windows ,
looking into the life that ,
once was within her grasp ;

The photographer ” snaps ” her subjects ,
Zoe , with her cigarettes and coffee ,
outside a diner at Fairfax & Willoughby ,
geographical surroundings affect emotional behaviour ;
Elizabeth , hanging around outside a club
at Sunset & North Poinsettia ,
circumstances determine consciousness;
there was something about their small town ,
something wasn’t satisfactory ,
so they moved here ,
to embrace a future where
their dreams eluded them .

Saleswomen , dancers , strippers , junkies ,
fetishists , unknown actresses , out of towners ,
all of them at the end of their rope .

The photographer ” snaps ” her subject ,
outside of 4306 Beverly Boulevard ,
Kelly , smoking a cigarette ,
pensive , reflective , vulnerable ,
waiting for her big break ;

The photographer ” snaps ” her subject…

( Footnote:- poem inspired by newspaper article on Lise Arfati’s
photographic exhibition, “On Hollywood” )

Gluttony:The Hunger Games

” They ” have stolen

the last of our days ,

” They ” have ripped

open our bellies ,

” They ” have taken

what little we had

mingled with blood and gore ;

When ” they ” finish gorging themselves

on the last of those days they stole ,

and lick clean their fingers

of the blood and gore ,

” They ” will choose not to remember

and we will choose never to forget ,

Dimitris Christoulas.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dimitris Christoulas was a Greek pensioner who committed suicide in Syntagma Square in Athens in April 4, 2012.

Christoulas left behind the following suicide note:

“The Tsolakoglou (The collaborationist occupation government established after the Nazi Germany invasion of Greece during World war two) government has annihilated all traces for my survival, which was based on a very dignified pension that I alone paid for 35 years with no help from the state. And since my advanced age does not allow me a way of dynamically reacting (although if a fellow Greek were to grab a Kalashnikov, I would be right behind him), I see no other solution than this dignified end to my life, so I don’t find myself fishing through garbage cans for my sustenance. I believe that young people with no future, will one day take up arms and hang the traitors of this country at Syntagma square, just like the Italians did to Mussolini in 1945″ [1]

Dimitris Christoulas, born in 1935, 77 years old at the time of his death, was a retired pharmacist who sold his pharmacy in 1994 and had been experiencing both financial and health problems, including difficulty paying for his medications, when the Greek government austerity measures slashed his pension.[2][3] Before his death, he had posted a sign outside his apartment that stated, “Can’t pay, won’t pay,” and his last words before shooting himself were “I am not committing suicide, they are killing me.”

The Photograph

empty of people,
there is just light
on a rain moistened street,
the matinee performance
sans audience
sans plaudits;
The years before The Hindenburg,
their melange of sweet perfumed absinthe
memories subverted by acrid pyre gauloises
the looking-glass stained by unrehearsed
intimacies and unrestricted desires;
the scene transfigured
by the deja-vu lens;
the accordion player,
the newspaper vendor,
the grande dame ex-voiture,
the gendarme scratching his head,
the louche and the bohemian
confreres in delight
of the forbidden things,
fruits and spices and incense..
and there is just light
on a rain moistened street,
the matinee performance,
about to begin,

The Fate of One,Luis Montero,Plantation Worker

Luis Montero suffered
and few knew of it;
arthiritis denied him
the athleticism needed
for track and field;
exposure to much
heat and dust
denied him the voice
needed for the stage;
Luis Montero suffered
and in doing so vouchedsafe
the glories of others in Mexico City,
and in the productions of Arthur Miller;
Luis Montero inhabited
the living obituary
of the coffee plantation
which bound him inextricably
to those he could never be –
the feted athlete,the renowned actor –
tasting the freshly ground coffee,
remarking as to its expensive purchase
from that Knightsbridge store.

What Absolution Feels Like..

She’d worn her bright red skirt
low cut top and boots as usual,
Saturday nights were just too
slow without them;
after she’d left the “Diamond Bar”
there’d been a ruckus ,
some guys had lost all their
money playing five-card stud:
hyped up they took to smoking joints
and drinking in their pickup truck,
later she strolled nonchalantly
across their feral radar;
after they gagged her
they took turns,
when they’d finished,an old baseball
bat was smashed across her face;
two days later she woke up,
her face all broken,
bandages over her eyes,
a newspaper left by her bedside
reported a candidate’s speech,
” we must restore law and order”
had her eyes seen that story,
her dyslexia would’ve let
those words escape her.

( One of a number of thematically linked poems inspired by songstories of the Americana genre..Richmond Fontaine,Hold Steady,Drive By Truckers,Felice Bros.Arcade Fire,Calexico )

Early Delivery..

Long road nights,
away from cargo terminalled towns,
days passing by like strangers
across midwestern plains,
beating time chasing sundowns
roaring on into chimeras
of purple-flecked dawns;
sights and sounds streaming north
skies bleached passing fast fading
truckstops neon-pink motel signs,
listening to the broadcast game
fade in and out with
the commentators’enthusiasm,
a stray memory of
another game a long time ago
those watching it running down their
lives soaking in the tavern sweat;
Long road nights,
running that clock down,
passing anonymous cities
their silhouetted skylines,
on toward the rumbling
karotine-colored dawn
crashing down breaking
into the final day;
scouting for that dirt road
miles off the Interstate,
rolling up to the farmhouse,
rendezvous with the Man in shades,
and a bulky manila envelope
exchanged for the cargo manifest;
drums of fuel oil
and pallets of Ammonia.

(Louis Kasatkin has asserted his Right to be identified as author of this work)