Wednesday, 1 July 2009
Eighties Radicalism (Poem from 1980)
On the day the Ministerial Review Committee released its report on the Foreshore & Seabed Act, a shiver of cold foreboding ran up my spine, and I recalled this poem. Written as the Thatcher-Reagan counter-revolution was hitting its stride, and based on a real encounter in Dunedin’s famous Captain Cook Tavern, the poem addresses the awful attractiveness of creative irrationality and intelligent cynicism – with which the fascist temperament is imbued, and which confers upon its most talented exponents such frightening plausibility.
No Stars Shone
The bar all but deserted,
He smoked silently in the shadows,
Keen eyes strafing the tables.
The clock clanked ominously.
‘Your bearing betrays you, comrade –
Visions of Nuremberg plague your dreams.’
He laughed at my confusion.
‘None believe the soft tales Mother told’,
He whispered. ‘The bullet and the buckle
Seduced us long ago.
Drink with me now and let us speak
Of fire and death.
The ultimate orgasm of annihilation
That all men yearn for – kill for.’
In the ashes of his cigarette
He traced a swastika.
Night thickened beyond the bar windows.
He recited the litany:
Hitler, Heydrich, Himmler, Hess,
Goring, Gobbels and Speer –
The best of them all.
A toast!’ he cried,
Crashing his heels together.
‘To better leadership
And improved technology!’
His glass shattered against the wall.
Our paths diverged into the darkness.
A pale moon shivered
Among the clouds.
No stars shone.