Poetry – The Importance of Importance – a poem about the way we are manipulated and our desires used to distract us.


I wrote this poem in response to the trivialisation and dumbing down I see all around me. People are obsessed with trivia while the big issues slide past unnoticed. Everything is superficial.

The media manages our views for us. We are not involved.

The game shows, talent shows and computer games fill our time and minds with nothing. We’re passing time.

The endless sport on TV provides an unremitting programme of essential viewing.

The alcohol and sex distract the mind.

We are worth it. We need to spend time and money on how we look or we will not be attractive. New clothes, new style, new accessories, new body, new make-up, new look. We have to measure up to the celebrities. We are being compared.

Fun is all there is. Fun is sex and alcohol – having a good time.

We all want to be famous, noticed and a celebrity.

We want wealth but not to have to earn it. A lottery ticket will do or instant notoriety.

It is trivial. It is superficial. It is pointless.

Life goes by – in the sky – nothing to do with you or I – Roy Harper.

Meanwhile the decisions are being made. The corporate giants are plotting. The media are planning. The politicians are jostling. The establishment is organising to maximise its position.

The wars are being organised. The wealth distributed. The honours awarded.

I saw the image of the naked little girls running through the napalm with her skin in shreds. I wondered is she’d dreamed of being a celebrity? And then I wrote this poem.


A baby with its shreds of skin dangling

A pompous politician playing the perennial race card

A bomb sliding through the clouds

Bloated stomachs on a diet of unfresh air

Chuckles in the back seat of a leah jet

Sulphur dioxide on the wind

Radioactive nucleotides in the waves

Purple upholstery in the limo

Another telly and flock wallpaper

Smiling for the cameras and a new dress

Throwing caviar down the garbage chute

A DJ and a bimbo at the reception

A maid, a new nose and two inches more

A smug disdain and a superior lilt

A million dead fish and a thousand dead forests

A cancerous womb and a deformity or three

Cardboard boxes under the archway

No boxes at all in the dust

A platitude and a shrug

A billion tons in the sea

Another Picasso and a Renoir

A pent-house and country estate and immunity from prosecution

Another dinner party

The power to move mountains

The power to bribe governments

An autobiography, public acclaim and fame

A shrewd move leading to a satisfying victory

Land, death, patriotic insanity and nationalistic fervour

Propaganda and manipulation

The power to trample ideals into dust

To trample asbestos into dust

To trample us all into dust

Sulphuric fumes in the rain

Toxic taste in the fish

A price worth paying for the life-style

An impression, a flutter in Las Vegas

A new yacht in MonteCarlo

Front-side seats for the big fight

Ten flunkies to keep away the public

A box at the opera

Bedecked in jewels with the right manners

More guns for the right to kill – elsewhere

To keep the masses controlled

Distracted and deceived

To educate only those worthy of education

To maintain the status quo

That’s the importance of importance


OPHER 30.10.95

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