Poignant political poems

Dr David McKinstry Teaches History at Holyrood Secondary in Glasgow.

The 70s

A more naïve and innocent time

Where no one scratched the head,

Whilst Eric and Ernie

Were sharing a double bed.

The miners were still underground

Whilst the Wombles were overground

And wombling free,

Virginia won Wimbledon

In the silver jubilee.

The only platforms

Were of oil and of shoes,

Whilst ‘Love Thy Neighbour’

Broadcast racist views.

Woolies and Pick ‘n’ Mix

Were our weekly treat,

Whilst thirteen lay dead

On Derry Street.

The seventies, a decade

Of riotous bad taste,

Whilst working people had rights

Before Thatcher’s industrial waste.

The Brexit Boat

HMS Enterprise was launched

With great fanfare by his majesty Rees-Mogg,

On the post Brexit economic seas

With Gove as Captain Ideologue

Captain Gove’s ship O’ fools

Sails towards Asian shores,

Too woo investors

From the land of silk and money,

But Chinese memories are long

Filled with opium wars,

Gunboats and the annexing of Hong Kong.

Whilst fool Britannia allows Huawei

To rule our airwaves,

All our captain can offer are freeports

And workers’ rights graves.

Our ship limps on

And docks at US port

Shoring up the ‘Special Relationship’

Is our goal,

But we are firmly retold

We have lost an Empire

And yet to find a role.

West Indies is the Enterprise’s

Next port of call,

Trying to find new trade

Other than old time molasses,

But they remind us of Windrush

And giving their ancestors fifty lashes.

Our ship is taking in water

In a globalization storm,

But the captain of HMS Enterprise

Is too financially astute to go down

With Britannia’s sinking boat,

Having an offshore account

Keeping himself financially afloat.

David Betteridge is the author and editor of collections of poems and examples of his other poems can be found at https://www.culturematters.org.uk/

Echoing The Arch: In memory of Desmond Tutu (1931-2021)

He was portrayed as a dancing man,

and one given to laughter,

but he marched as often as he danced,

and he wept.

He marched at risk of his life

for justice and for peace.

He wept at their denial,

and at their breach.

How long, he cried, echoing the Psalmist,

how long shall I take counsel in my soul, 

having sorrow in my heart daily?

He is remembered for his consoling

and for his reconciling;

but he as often challenged and confronted,

saying to his allies, when he thought

them wrong, as to his foes,

Stop and No and How long?

A poor boy, he became rich in talent;

he out-scholared his teachers;

a servant of his God, he led peoples

and nations; not proud,

he boldly assumed the role of Moses

facing down Pharaohs;

he made his words a sword,

and the course of his life

a long battleground.

Look to the rock from which

you were hewn, he exhorted,

echoing Isaiah.

He became that rock,

hard, resistant, a sure place

on which to build.

His arch spanned great divides;

he embraced spectrums of folk,

seeing them as one;

he was a rainbow of hope,

even when others saw none.

Lighten mine eyes, he prayed,

lest I sleep the sleep of death.

Dead now, sleeping now,

he lives on, lightening our eyes,

still dancing and marching,

and laughing and weeping

as we remember him,

still consoling and reconciling,

and challenging and confronting.

It falls to us and others now

to look to our own rock

and become it,

and to echo the arch

that was this great warrior.