The Voice of the People

The dreadful news from Iraq, overtaking in its monstrousness even the deepening horror of Syria, has rightly recalled that moment eleven years ago when two million British people – one in thirty of the population – marched in London to protest against Blair’s leading the UK into joining the US to invade Iraq. The official rationale for this was to defeat terrorism! At the time, I wrote this poem addressed to Blair:

The voice of the people is heard in the land

We don’t want your ancient enmities

Your new crusade

Bin Saddam

We don’t want your paranoid scaring

Terrorism on a flying carpet bomb

You have to get them first

Before they square the Circle Line

We don’t want your puerile patronage

Head teacher of the universe

Calling out the naughty boy

To put away his catapult

We don’t want your ecclesiastical certainties

Giving the Pope an audience

Knowing God is on your side

We don’t want your gunboat diplomacy

Dealing with the other

As in the nineteenth century –

The time for that is past.

The people are ahead of you.

We are beyond

Final solutions.

March 2003

As always, Robert Fisk gives a good analysis of the inner dynamics of the latest conflict, especially its financing.   As he says, “Apart from Saudi Arabia’s role in this catastrophe, what other stories are to be hidden from us in the coming days and weeks?”




Why make a case for feminism?

It’s a banal assertion.

A special dispensation

For half the population?

Patriarchal culture

Makes inequity seem nature.

There shouldn’t be an issue.

Different, perhaps, but equal.


I couldn’t make my writing group this week, but the topic on which I should have written was Feminism.  I promised I’d write something for my blog, so here it is.   It didn’t take long, and I’m not really satisfied with it, but I don’t know how far my reticence in posting has to do with my fear of being misunderstood.  In saying that this issue is (or should be) a non-issue, I’m not denying the horrific “naturalness” of patriarchal culture, of which the young women recently gang-raped and then hanged in India are one recent instance.


The Male Line











My father grew runner beans every year

in our suburban garden. Twenty plants saluted

each other, regularly apart. Too bright

for army green, their densely orange flowers

heralded dangling pods of seeded sustenance.


Today I grow beans in my urban garden.

The parade is shorter, but the line

stretches across the earth. Young green soldiers

stand waiting to climb their way to planthood.