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Kojo Owusu, 'The Prophet of Wigan Pier'

The Prophet Of Wigan Pier

Wigan Pier
On the painful road
The elms creak squalid slums
And echoes
Of pervasive poverty
Hut huddled together
Infamous
Turned a common wanderer
An ordinary Youngman
Into a radical avant-garde
A revolutionary
To champion the course
Of the poor
To send agonized ululation
To the clouds
To denounce the carefully
Wrought hypocrisy
To make conscious the down trodden
On the road to Wigan Pier
He was successful
Before he went to farm and
Reared animals
And in nineteen eighty four
Traveled to Oceania
Where he
Plunged in to the heart
Of the future
And returned
With a boon for dictators

Man is doomed to suffer
And through the suffering
May gain wisdom
Be ennobled
Siva’s son
The sacred Ganges
You left for Eton prestigious
Where the sharp contrast
Was enough to break a lions heart
But you were strong
And even immortalized
You never abjured the noble course

Listen then perjured leaders
Vociferously eloquent to defend the course
Of justice and equity
But when the mandate is granted
Absolute – unapproachable
Soar above them with cruel canine
Manipulate them with crude mystification.

By Kojo Owusu

The Road To Wigan Pier by George Orwell
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Leslie Fish, 'Firestorm'

Firestorm

Hey, hey, burned away
In the night on fire and the sunless day!
Ha, ha, rule of law!
Biggest lie you ever saw.


Small wars here and big crimes there
Make such a fine excuse
To put your life in the hands of the Man
Who will never turn you loose.
Boss and bureaucrat, cop and preacher,
We'll let them have their way.
They got power and all the Earth,
We've got hell to pay.

Trade your freedom and rights away
For their sworn security.
Trash the earth and spoil the waters
For a sound economy.
Just pay your taxes and do your job.
Be grateful you're workin' at all.
Don't make waves or the law will get you
'Fore this house of cards can fall.

Cops and soldiers, peace and war;
That's where your money goes.
Look how long last the summer droughts
And how black the winter snows.
Was it a war or "just pollution"
That ate a hole in the sky?
Watch our bosses run for cover
And leave us here to die.

Came a night when the sky was red
And a day when the sky was black,
And a roar of rage from the tortured millions
As they took their freedom back.
Enough of laws, enough of orders,
Enough of leaders and war.
Just one pledge to a suffering world...
No rulers anymore.

Biggest lie you ever saw.

By Leslie Fish

https://youtu.be/I9JpQqL4sjY
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Tudor Jenks, 'The Spirit of the Maine'

The Spirit of the Maine

In battle-line of sombre gray
Our ships of war advance,
As Red Cross knights in holy fray
Charged with avenging lance.
And terrible shall be thy plight,
O fleet of cruel Spain!
For ever in our van doth fight
The spirit of the Maine!

As when, beside Regillus Lake,
The great twin brethren came
A righteous fight for Rome to make
Against a deed of shame,
So now a ghostly ship shall doom
The fleet of treacherous Spain,
Before her guilty soul doth loom
The spirit of the Maine!

A wraith arrayed in peaceful white,
As when asleep she lay
Above the traitorous mine that night
Within Havana Bay,
She glides before the avenging fleet
A sign of woe to Spain.
Brave though her sons, how shall they meet
The spirit of the Maine?

By Tudor Jenks

Sinking of the Maine, February 15, 1898
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Roy Zimmerman, 'To the Victims of This Tragedy'

To the Victims of This Tragedy We Send Our Thoughts and Prayers

We targeted your district and we called you out by name
We took positions round your door we shouted "Ready, Aim"
We televised a picture of your seat behind cross-hairs
And to the victims of this tragedy we send our thoughts and prayers

"Aim high", we say. "Shoot straight", we say. "Go for the kill", we shout.
We've got the enemy in our sights. We say "Let's take 'em out".
We want you armed and dangerous our candidate declares
And to the victims of this tragedy we send our thoughts and prayers

Now listen I'm professing
to teach a civics lesson
with this here Smith&Wesson
Now let us pray for peace
Yes, this is war we semi-automatically repeat
And so, my friends reload and don't retreat, but do retweet
We vomit violent rhetoric like drunken legionnaires
And to the victims of this tragedy we send our thoughts and prayers

I want that second amendment remedy
And so I'm voting for Yosemite-Sam
Yes I am! Yes I am! Yes I am!
We can't be held responsible for every lunatic
Who hears us yelling "Kill, kill, kill" and then does something sick
It's rap and heavy metal. Yeah, the blame is clearly theirs
And to the victims of this tragedy go all our thoughts and prayers

The tree of liberty is watered with a tyrant's blood
Yes, so said Thomas Jefferson. Or was it Elmer Fudd?
The twee of wibety is watered with a tywant's blood
eh-ehe-eh-ee
For bloody insurrection a true patriot prepares
And to the victims of that tragedy we send our thoughts and prayers

Let's pass conceal and carry
So Curly, Moe, and Larry
can act like Dirty Harry
Now let us pray for peace
Next time some crazy loner shoots some people in the head
don't start attacking us by quoting things we actually said
This ain't no time for politics you commie liberal where's your decency
pray for peace and see
That the victims of this tragedy deserve our thought and prayers
And by the victims of this tragedy
we mean us!

By Roy Zimmerman

Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting, February 14, 2018

https://youtu.be/5hdX1MUOgQw
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Robert Service, 'My Hero'

My Hero

Of all the boys with whom I fought
In Africa and Sicily,
Bill was the bravest of the lot
In our dare-devil Company.
That lad would rather die than yield;
His gore he glorified to spill,
And so in every battlefield
A hero in my eyes was Bill.

Then when the bloody war was done,
He moseyed back to our home town,
And there, a loving mother’s son,
Like other kids he settled down.
His old girl seemed a shade straight-laced,
For when I called my buddy “Bill,”
She looked at me with some distaste,
Suggesting that his name was “Will.”

And then he had to get engaged,
And took unto himself a wife;
And so inevitably caged,
He settled down to wedded life.
He introduced me to his Missis,
But oh I thought her rather silly,
For in between their frequent kisses
She called my hard-boiled hero: “Willie.”

Now he has long forgot the War,
The which he did a lot to win,
And feeling full of ginger, for
He’s happy Pop of cherubs twin.
Yet with his air: “Don’t care a damn,”
On Main Street he’s my hero still . . .
As proud he wheels a double pram
What guy has got the guts of Bill!

by Robert Service
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David Byrne, 'Life During Wartime'

Life During Wartime

Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons,
Packed up and ready to go
Heard of some gravesites, out by the highway,
A place where nobody knows

The sound of gunfire, off in the distance,
I'm getting used to it now
Lived in a brownstone, lived in the ghetto,
I've lived all over this town

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco,
This ain't no fooling around
No time for dancing, or lovey dovey,
I ain't got time for that now

Transmit the message, to the receiver,
Hope for an answer some day
I got three passports, a couple of visas,
You don't even know my real name

High on a hillside, the trucks are loading,
Everything's ready to roll
I sleep in the daytime, I work in the nighttime,
I might not ever get home

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco,
This ain't no fooling around
This ain't no mudd club, or C.B.G.B.,
I ain't got time for that now

Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit?
Heard about Pittsburgh, P.A.?
You oughta know not to stand by the window
Somebody might see you up there

I got some groceries, some peanut butter,
To last a couple of days
But I ain't got no speakers, ain't got no
Headphones, ain't got no records to play

Why stay in college? Why go to night school?
Gonna be different this time
Can't write a letter, can't send a postcard,
I can't write nothing at all

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco,
This ain't no fooling around
I'd like to kiss you, I'd love you hold you
I ain't got no time for that now

Trouble in transit, got through the roadblock,
We blended with the crowd
We got computer, we're tapping phone lines,
I know that ain't allowed

We dress like students, we dress like housewives,
Or in a suit and a tie
I changed my hairstyle, so many times now,
I don't know what I look like!

You make me shiver, I feel so tender,
We make a pretty good team
Don't get exhausted, I'll do some driving,
You ought to get some sleep

Get you instructions, follow directions,
Then you should change your address
Maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day,
Whatever you think is best

Burned all my notebooks, what good are
Notebooks? They won't help me survive
My chest is aching, burns like a furnace,
The burning keeps me alive

Try to stay healthy, physical fitness,
Don't want to catch no disease
Try to be careful, don't take no chances,
You better watch what you say

By David Byrne

https://youtu.be/jShMQw2H2cM
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Traditional, 'Lovely, Brothers, Lovely'

Lovely, Brothers, Lovely

At the early dawning, 'cross the rolling hillside
Legionnaires of Russia rode their shining, stoic steed
Horses fell to bullets, heroes pierced and rended
Stormy river runs red as a thousand soldiers bleed.

Lovely, brothers, lovely, lovely 'tis to live.
With our brave lieutenant who has time or will to grieve?
Lovely, brothers, lovely, lovely 'tis to live.
With our brave lieutenant, who has time or will to grieve?


The first bullet whistles, the first bullet's nearing
The first bullet wounded my proud steed right in his feet
And the second bullet, in a second's fury
And the second bullet carves a scorching void in me

Leave no man behind you, commandant commands us
"Fall back to the line!" – but they've forgotten me behind
In the hills a swallow sings them of tomorrow
As for me, about this cold and bitter earth I die

My sweetheart she mourns me, tears to fill a river
Mends her heart, forgets me and embraces my old friend
Pity that my country must fight on without me
Pity my old mother and the stallion that lies dead.

And my raven tresses, my alabaster face
All will shrivel, crumble, feed the grass that takes their place.
And the eyes that shot sharp, bold heart ripped apart
Falcons, crows, hyenas will devour all that's there.

Lovely, brothers, lovely, lovely 'tis to live.
With our brave lieutenant who has time or will to grieve?
Lovely, brothers, lovely, lovely 'tis to live.
With our brave lieutenant, who has time or will to grieve?


-Traditional

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https://youtu.be/znc6FTYbzDY
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Siegfried Sassoon, 'On Reading the War Diary of a Defunct Ambassador'

On Reading the War Diary of a Defunct Ambassador

So that's your Diary—that's your private mind
Translated into shirt-sleeved History. That
Is what diplomacy has left behind
For after-ages to peruse, and find
What passed beneath your elegant silk-hat.

You were a fine old gentleman; compact
Of shrewdness, charm, refinement and finesse.
Impeccable in breeding, taste and dress,
No diplomatic quality you lacked—
No tittle of ambassadorial tact.

I can imagine you among ‘the guns’,
Urbanely peppering partridge, grouse, or pheasant—
Guest of those infinitely privileged ones
Whose lives are padded, petrified, and pleasant.
I visualize you feeding off gold plate
And gossiping on grave affairs of State.

Now you're defunct; your gossip's gravely printed;
The world discovers where you lunched and dined
On such and such a day; and what was hinted
By ministers and generals far behind
The all-important conflict, carnage-tinted.

The world can read the rumours that you gleaned
From various Fronts; the well-known Names you met;
Each conference you attended and convened;
And (at appropriate moments) what you ate.
Thus (if the world's acute) it can derive
Your self, exact, uncensored and alive.

The world will find no pity in your pages;
No exercise of spirit worthy of mention;
Only a public-funeral grief-convention;
And all the circumspection of the ages.
But I, for one, am grateful, overjoyed,
And unindignant that your punctual pen
Should have been so constructively employed
In manifesting to unprivileged men
The visionless officialized fatuity
That once kept Europe safe for Perpetuity.

By Siegfried Sassoon
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Edgar Albert Guest, 'Warriors'

Warriors

We all are warriors with sin. Crusading knights, we come to earth
With spotless plumes and shining shields to joust with foes and prove our worth.
The world is but a battlefield where strong and weak men fill the lists,
And some make war with humble prayers, and some with swords and some with fists.
And some for pleasure or for peace forsake their purposes and goals
And barter for the scarlet joys of ease and pomp, their knightly souls.

We're all enlisted soldiers here, in service for the term called life
And each of us in some grim way must bear his portion of the strife.
Temptations everywhere assail. Men do not rise by fearing sin,
Nor he who keeps within his tent, unharmed, unscratched, the crown shall win.
When wrongs are trampling mortals down and rank injustice stalks about,
Real manhood to the battle flies, and dies or puts the foes to rout.

'Tis not the new and shining blade that marks the soldier of the field,
His glory is his broken sword, his pride the scars upon his shield;
The crimson stains that sin has left upon his soul are tongues that speak
The victory of new found strength by one who yesterday was weak.
And meaningless the spotless plume, the shining blade that goes through life
And quits this naming battlefield without one evidence of strife.

We all are warriors with sin, we all are knights in life's crusades,
And with some form of tyranny, we're sent to earth to measure blades.
The courage of the soul must gleam in conflict with some fearful foe,
No man was ever born to life its luxuries alone to know.
And he who brothers with a sin to keep his outward garb unsoiled
And fears to battle with a wrong, shall find his soul decayed and spoiled.

By Edgar Albert Guest