“We Teach Life, Sir.”

I have just discovered this wonderful, and very moving poem, by Rafeef Ziadeh.   It deserves to be widely heard.  Pass it on.

Poppy Pride and Prejudice.

It never ceases to amaze me at this time of year how bigoted, ignorant, and intolerant people can be to those, such as myself, who decide to wear a white poppy instead of a red one.  Just this week for example, someone I know very well posted a picture on Facebook that had the caption “if the red poppy offends you pack your bags and Fuck Off!”  Rational and civilised discussion are just not on the agenda it would seem.  There are none so deaf and blind, or dangerous, as those who willfully refuse to see or hear an opposing point of view.  We are not allowed to be heard.  It is their way, or the highway, which is sorta reminiscent of the fascism our ‘heroes’ apparently vanquished some 70 years ago, funnily enough.

As a long time anti-war activist, I have often heard variations on the theme, “but those soldiers died for your right to protest/freedom of speech”.  If I had a pound for every time I had been told that, I would be a very rich man indeed.   More than once I have been told, in effect, that “these soldiers died for your right to speak, so shut your bloody mouth…”

Though, of course, the Freedom of Speech claim is utter nonsense, especially in light of recent cases in the UK, where a man was prosecuted for something he had written on a T-shirt, disabled women are having their doors knocked at the dead of night by Police over Facebook postings, people being arrested for Twitter postings, and folk being arrested for heckling the Prime Minister.

Freedom?  Aye, for the rich and their peado friends maybe.

Lest we forget, Remembrance Sunday was originally called Armistice Day, to commemorate the end of The Great War, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.  Those who fought and died in the trenches thought they were fighting ‘The War To End All Wars’.  The Great War was supposed to be the Last War.  And this war was so horrific, so brutal, so pointless, that the general sentiment afterwards was of NEVER AGAIN.  That we have done it again, and again, and again and again, is a huge slap in the face to the millions who thought they were fighting in the last ever war.   Those that died in the mud of Flanders Field did not do so in the belief that their war was the first in a sequence.  The last 100 years have shown that they fought and died for nothing.  And that is not something to be proud of.

It seems obscene to me to take “pride” in events that have left millions dead and injured, and whole nations crippled and scarred.

Remembrance Sunday glosses over the details of various British military adventures, as if there is no distinction between WW2, Iraq, Kenya, WW1, the Falklands, Afghanistan or Ireland.  Ironically, Remembrance Sunday is not about remembering that our politicians regularly lie about war, or that war is mostly unnecessary, and evil.  It is only about remembering what is termed the “glorious dead”.  Details like causes and consequences can be forgotten.

And it is phrases like the “glorious dead” that also make me refuse to wear a red poppy.  Calling the dead ‘glorious’ serves only to glamorise and romanticise dying in war to our young.  It says, in effect, that it is a great, noble, and honourable thing to die in war.  Wilfred Owen railed against that thinking in his poem Dulce Et Decorum Est, and Harry Patch, the last UK survivor of the trenches, went further, calling war nothing but “legalised mass murder”.

I wear a white poppy to show my distaste with war, with the misery it causes, with the lies that cause it, with it’s utter futility and pointlessness.  War is terrorism writ large, and nothing about it should ever generate pride.  I shall wear my white poppy with sorrow, sadness, and a fair grasp of what war has meant for generations, from World War One to Iraq.

… The white poppy is a symbol of remembrance for all those who have died in war, not just one nation’s dead, or one nation’s fallen soldiers; but all deaths in all wars, civilian and soldiers, past conflicts and present. The death of one individual in conflict has the same worth and sadness attached to it as any other, and the white poppy promotes that.

The red poppy does not. It promotes one nationality, it promotes one profession, it ignores civilians, and worst of all it encourages collective silence in questioning British involvement in current conflicts that continue to see casualties week in week out, from all sides.

And if you don’t like that, argue with me, politely 😉

Further reading –
Lest We Forget 2012, by John Andrews.

The Cult of The Fallen Soldier by Matthew Vickery.

White Poppies Are For Peace.

Ae Fond Kiss

It has just occurred to me, the major difference between my old job as a gas engineer, and my new(er) job as a carer is this – as a gasman, I saw my customers/clients, wee auld biddies in distress, once or twice a year, whereas as a carer, I see my residents/service users, wee auld biddies in distress, more or less every single day of the week.  I am told that I am their carer, not their friend.  In December(one week after my focking fortieth) I will have been at this job two years.  Most of these people are like family to me now.  I suppose that makes me a bad carer.  But hey, I never do anything ‘right’, life, love, and aw the rest o’ it.  But I try…

Solitude, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

Solitude

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow it’s mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Richard Brautigan Quotes and Poems.

For no reason other than the fact I feel like it, and possibly for the need to have some beauty in my life, here is a collection of lines from the writings of Richard Brautigan.  He is quite possibly one of the main reasons I am such a sentimental fool….

I’m haunted a little this evening by feelings that have no vocabulary and events that should be explained in dimensions of lint rather than words.
Ive been examining half-scraps of my childhood.  They are pieces of distant life that have no form or meaning.  They are things that just happened like lint.”
From Lint, in Revenge of The Lawn.

I will be very careful the next time I fall in love, she told herself. Also, she had made a promise to herself that she intended on keeping. She was never going to go out with another writer: no matter how charming, sensitive, inventive or fun they could be. They weren’t worth it in the long run. They were emotionally too expensive and the upkeep was complicated. They were like having a vacuum cleaner around the house that broke all the time and only Einstein could fix it.
She wanted her next lover to be a broom.
From Sombrero Fallout.

Hinged to forgetfulness like a door,
she slowly closed out of sight,
and she was the woman that I loved,
but too many times she slept like
a mechanical deer in my caresses,
and I ached in the metal silence
     of her dreams.
From Rommel Drives On Deep Into Egypt.

Spinning like a ghost
on the bottom of a
top,
I’m haunted by all
the space that I
will live without
you.”

———–

The Beautiful Poem”

I go to bed in Los Angeles thinking
about you.

Pissing a few moments ago
I looked down at my penis
affectionately.

Knowing it has been inside
you twice today makes me
feel beautiful.”

———–

Once upon a valley
There came down
From some goldenblue mountains
A handsome young prince
Who was riding a dawncolored horse
Names Lordsburg.

I love you
You’re my breathing castle
Gentle so gentle
We’ll live forever

In the valley
There was a beautiful maiden
Whom the prince drifted into love with
Like a New Mexico made from apple thunder and long
glass beds.

I love you
You’re my breathing castle
Gentle so gentle
We’ll live forever

The prince enchanted
The maiden
And they rode off
On the dawncolored horse
Named Lordsburg
Toward the goldenblue mountains.

I love you
You’re my breathing castle
Gentle so gentle
We’ll live forever

They would have lived
happily ever after
if the horse hadn’t had
a flat tire
In front of a dragon’s
House.”
All from The Pill Versus The Springhill Mine Disaster.

I like to think
(it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.”
From All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace.

Beautiful, sobbing
high-geared fucking
and then to lie silently
like deer tracks in the
freshly-fallen snow beside
the one you love.
That’s all.
Deer Tracks.