‘Wear these blinkers’

This poem was published in the online magazine I am not a silent poet (edited by Reuben Woolley) in 2015.

Twentieth Century

The wind stands fair for France. Look,
here’s a troop ship, battle-grey.
We’ve filled it with cattle, young bulls
trained to charge. Here’s some barbed wire.
Here are the Boers in a concentration camp.

Here are the genes for violent rage.
Here is a culture to switch on
their expression. We handed out some paper
to mop up the blood. It dries to poetry.
Here’s the vote for those who have survived.

Here is your heart of hate. Wear
these blinkers, these polarising lenses
to see the world in black and white.
We’ve sent the other lenses overseas
so they see us in white and black.

Here is dynamite and a Nobel Peace Prize.
Here is the Physics Prize for war.
Here a neutral engineer is working
in a factory. Here are the shipments
of arms. Look! The economy’s growing.

Here is a socialist in an armchair.
We’ve installed a safety valve for protest.
Would you like to write a letter to your MP?
There’s a brake handle on the juggernaut
with its nose to the next war. Release.

Now the last turn of the screw.
Force the plough through the ground.
Harrow the soil to sow resentment.
Stab planting holes with martyr’s crosses.
Harvest bitterness. Add the apathy of the good.

Chris Fewings

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