Poetry – Once

Once

Once there was hope.

Now we can cope.

Once there was impetus.

Now we don’t make a fuss.

Once we could dream.

Now it’s what it seems.

Once the music meant something.

Now the music’s for the dustbin.

Once there was no spin.

Now we can’t believe anything.

Once we had the world.

Now the trees are felled.

Once there was much to learn.

Now there’s a world to burn.

Once things looked bright.

Now there’s excuses to cite.

Once we knew we could.

Now we’re busy playing god.

Opher – 8.10.2020

Perhaps it’s age, perhaps it’s the zeitgeist. But has the world become more cynical?

It feels to me that we are swamping the planet with our vast numbers, destroying nature and poisoning everything we touch.

It seems to me that there is no wisdom, that we are out of control, and heavily controlled.

Poetry – Lost in Infinity

Lost in Infinity

Lost in infinity.

                Adrift from gravity,

                                With no memory,

                                                No clarity.

Does the universe exist

                If we are not there?

If nobody exists

                Does it spin everywhere?

Is there darkness

                With no light?

Distance

                Without matter?

If there

                Is nothing

Do dreams

                Shatter?

Opher – 6.10.2020

It is interesting to allow the mind to wander through infinity. We take our lives, our reality, for granted. We accept the proof of our senses. But those senses are wrong.

Reality is much weirder than we think. It probably doesn’t exist at all.

Is it our consciousness that creates the whole of the universe? Nothing more?

The Land is Free – for Moshe.

Once upon a time, the land was free,

As free as the wind, rain and sea.

Then, on the African plain

A mutation created man.

We prospered and increased in number

Moving out across the world

Dispersing.

We formed little clans and tribes.

We were hunter-gatherers and began to think of the tracts of land we hunted in as ours.

It brought us into conflict with neighbouring tribes.

But the land was not owned. It belonged to all.

The tribes prospered and coalesced and we invented nations.

The nations had leaders who became kings and religious leaders.

They claimed the land as theirs.

They waged war against other tribes to seize their land, to pillage and plunder

And increase their own wealth and power.

The robber barons who helped them subjugate the people and conquer were rewarded.

The kings and religious leaders gave them big tracts of land.

The robber barons sold or leased off small parcels of land to the people

Thus increasing their wealth.

The people farmed or lived on the small parcels of land they were sold.

The robber barons fenced off the land and called it private.

The kings, religious leaders and robber barons waged war, set up empires and increased their wealth and power.

The ordinary masses of people were enslaved, exploited, used and abused.

Down through history.

The descendants of the robber barons, kings and religious leaders still ‘own’ the vast tracts of land they purloined from the people. They use this land to generate vast wealth.

The descendants of ordinary people still cling on to their tiny parcels of land or rent their space.

The same wealthy robber barons own Britain, the USA and Israel. They still seize land, plunder and pillage out of greed and selfishness. They do it through war, corruption, manipulation and economic control. They manipulate us through the media, through patriotism, religion, politics, nationalism, xenophobia and racism. They divide people so that we turn on each other and not on them.

So, my friend Moshe, we are the exploited ones, We are not responsible for our rulers. They are the robber barons of old. They manipulate us. History is the story of the exploits of the robber barons – not our folk.

The land is as free as we want it to be. It is never owned, only borrowed or stolen. We are just passing through.

One day we will take all the land back. Hopefully, we will find a better way of living – not part of this system of greed, inequality and environmental destruction. We will all be equally important and there will not be this inherent racism and artificial division. There will not be nations or races. There will be people.

That is why I support the UN – because it is a way of taking power from those who are presently abusing it and exploiting us, and damaging our planet.

I am idealistic, realistic and far from stupid. I clearly see what is going on.

You, Moshe, are playing into their hands.

The land is free.

More is so much less!

We live in an age of instant gratification where everything is available at the click of a mouse – yet nothing is cherished.

I think this is the same in all areas, but particularly in music.

I have spent much of my life searching through record shops, hunting for albums, for particular artists and bands, rarities, and long-sought LPs. There was always the thrill of expectation every time you set out to do a tour around. You never knew what you would unearth. Then, when you finally discovered something you had been searching for there was a great euphoria. You rushed home to play it, studied the cover, read the liner notes and absorbed it all. It was special.

Now you can go online and find anything – rarities you did not even know existed – rarities that would previously have sent you swooning in delirium. But the thrill has gone.

It is the same with food. Food used to be seasonal. When the season came around it was like a rediscovery and it tasted brilliant. Now you can get anything all year round and that magic has gone.

It’s the same with sport. There was anticipation. Every now and then there was a match on TV.  You were hooked. Now it’s there continuously and the magic has gone.

More is definitely a lot less.

Entering the USA – an extract from ‘Farther from the Sun’.

In 1971, under the auspices of Pete Smith, for whom travel was a mind-expanding necessity, we applied to go over to the States on a student Visa. We had to go to the American embassy to get orientated. They told us stories about English people not understanding American gun policy and hence getting themselves shot.

We were told of one unfortunate guy who had his back blown out by a neighbour because he was climbing in through his own front window having forgotten his key. The neighbour mistook him for a burglar. An easy mistake to make. Could happen anywhere!

The American diplomat explained to us that Americans shoot first and ask questions later.

We were told not to walk around in certain areas or districts of the city. It seemed that every city and town had a no-go area and every American was looking for an excuse to blast you full of lead. We were warned about race hatred, religious fervour and swearing. Contrary to Hollywood films, it seems that many Americans considered it a shooting matter if sworn at.

It seemed to us that you could get shot for almost anything.

We were warned about the evils of drugs. It seems that one puff on a ‘reefer’ and you were hooked. Not only that, but it turned you instantly into an insane degenerate. All your values disappeared and you inevitably got gonorrhoea, pregnant and became insane. Not only that but you had to steal and whore yourself to get a further ‘fix’. Wow! I never knew that. Any hint of interaction with drugs would result in our instant deportation or worse!

We were warned about communists. Communists were seeking to undermine American values. They, under many guises, such as student visas, sought to get into the country and ferment insurrection. He looked closely at each one of us as if peering into our souls, seeking out the slightest hint of communist ideology lurking in the crevices of our minds. It made us all very uneasy. I’d never been involved with any communist party but I certainly believed in equality and fairness. I suspected that might well be sufficient to ban me, lock me up or even have me lynched. Fairness and equality were not fundamental American values – competition and capitalism were. This was the land of the survival of the fittest. Speaking about anything that smacked of socialism could get you shot.

We were told of all the wonderful American values and what the nation stood for and all the other activities for which we could be instantly deported.

It seemed an extensive no-do list. I was concerned that I might not even remember it all and inadvertently find myself booted out for some minor indiscretion or other – like not paying sufficient respect to the American flag or not taking the vow of allegiance seriously. I could easily become deported for grinning at the wrong time. It was quite daunting.

The diplomatic official, without any hint of irony, explained to us that we were being privileged in that we were being allowed a look at the free world in action.

It didn’t actually sound very free to me.

After we’d proceeded through the six months of paperwork necessary to enter the ‘home of the free’, we found ourselves on a plane bound for New York.

At embarkation, we were ushered along in a lengthy slow-moving line. When it came to our turn we were scrutinised by a solemn Customs Officer. He dramatically opened a huge black book and scanned down the names to see if we were included. This contained all the names of communist sympathisers, fellow travellers and political activists. It had trades unionists, who were obviously commie sympathisers, and druggies, criminals and miscreants. There were a lot of people who were not allowed to be free. Nobody ever knew how they compiled this great mass of names, the book was massive, but if your name appeared in it you were forbidden entry.

As we stood there in front of this official from the land of freedom, we couldn’t help running through the checklist of possibilities for our exclusion. There seemed an infinite number of reasons why our names might find their way into inclusion in such a tome. I was surely guilty and hence unworthy of entry into the land of purity and apple pie. I harboured thoughts of equality and real freedom of thought and mouth. I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. I might pollute an American.

We waited for the finger to come to rest as it trailed down the endless list of names. The enormous book was a full six inches thick. It was huge. We stood there in front of the man trying to look innocent for what felt like ages. The names were tiny and arranged in neat columns. There had to be half the world in that book.

I couldn’t help wondering, as I stood there, if they actually did have all of Cuba, Russia and China in there to start with.

Absurd.

I strained to see how many Goodwins his finger was progressing through. There had to be a lot. We were an awkward bunch. It was genetic, you see.

We were sweating. If your name was in the book you were put on the next flight back and refused entry. You had no recourse to appeal. You were not told the reason why your name had been put on to the list. That nice Mr McCarthy had decided that America could only be kept free if unAmerican ideas were completely eradicated from the country.

At last the customs officer seemed satisfied and closed the book. He looked at us with a stony face, his grey eyes piercing into ours like swords, obviously unhappy that he had not found our names.

‘Are you, or have you ever been, a communist?’

Incredible, I thought. If I was a Russian spy or a communist agitator I was hardly likely to answer yes. I felt like asking what he meant. Did he mean had I ever joined the communist party or did he mean to question my philosophy? Did I believe in equality and ‘To each according to their needs – from each according to their ability’, because if that was the case then I was obviously a communist. But then if he meant did I subscribe to the fascist totalitarian apology for Socialism as epitomised by Russia then I would have to admit to being more of a Menshevik. But then this was most probably not the time to enter into discussion regarding the semantics of politics, was it?

‘No.’

‘Do you know anyone who is a communist, or have you ever known anyone who was a communist?’

Of course, I had.

‘No.’

Reluctantly he let us in.

21.9.01

 

What rights does a gannet have as it clings to the rugged rocks of a windy cliff? As it hangs in beauty on the edge of the wind with its white feathers glistening in the sun? As it steals fish from the trawler’s nets?

          15.9.01

 

 

 

Poetry – You Set Me Free

You Set Me Free

 

You opened up the rainforest

And set me free.

You sent in the loggers

And released me.

Your hunters and merchants

Took me to distant lands

Your wet markets and butchers

Have blood on their hands.

Now I’m in your blood

Breeding rapidly.

I bet you are glad

You set me free.

 

Opher – 13.9.2020