Saturday, 14 November 2015

Twin Towers

I didn't expect I'd be referencing Paris for a second week running (after last week's Van Gogh Dans Le Metro poem). I had a completely different idea mapped out for the theme of Secrecy, but that concept has been electronically spiked in the wake of the horrendous atrocities in Lebanon and France in the last 48 hours....

Abigail's sister has ripped the roof off my shed, it's hardly stopped blowing and raining all day, and Blackpool FC lost yet again and are relegation-bound, (five straight defeats in a row). However, those events somehow feel insignificant compared to the loss of life in Beirut - 41 people killed and 200 injured in suicide-bomb attacks, and Paris - 129 people lying dead in the city's morgues and another 350 badly injured and in hospitals - after two days of ISIS-inspired terrorist carnage.

I've worked in Paris. I've been to the Stade de France, the Bataclan, I know those streets of the 10th arrondissement.  I might live in Blackpool these days, but what happened feels nearly as close and personal as if it had been perpetrated on my doorstep. I guess that proximity is what disturbs people the most, and understandably so, the threat of religious fanaticism infiltrating our comparatively cosy western society. It seems almost trite to say we need to understand the root causes of why it's happening in order to counter it effectively.

Blackpool Tower was erected in the early 1890s as a statement of civic pride and in affectionate emulation of its recent forerunner, the Eiffel Tower. Tonight it is lit up (above) in Tricolor, a symbolic statement of solidarity with its Parisian twin.

I don't feel sufficiently equipped (yet, at least) to distil the impact and importance of last night's events in the French capital. I have the impression that the natives, though bloodied (and possibly not for the last time) will remain Gallicly unbowed.

This, then, will have to suffice for now, the product of an angry mind and a large glass of Beaujolais:

No sprightly dalliance
in the streets tonight,
no romance dance in the clubs...
for panic fills a stadium,
riddled bodies litter bistros
and carnage rends the Bataclan
more savage
than the Eagles of Death Metal
could conjure with mere chords.

Unholy war's dark stain
has spread
across this city of enlightenment.
A new delusional fraternity
strikes with Kalashnikovs
at old ideals of liberty, equality.
The heart of the republic
haemorrhages briefly then recoups,
grieves for its innocent dead,
and then regroups defiant,
bloodied but unbowed.
Bigots beware.

Thanks for reading, S ;-(


Adele said...

Vive la France. Steve the poem is a testament to both your writing skill and your humanity.

Lady Curt said...

In FB we can only 'like' and yet it is not a subject worthy of that title. Written with feeling and compassion. Understanding and respect.

Annie Walton said...


Steve, thank you for these words which cut and soothe in equal measuresxxxx

Daniel Holt said...

I enjoyed your poem, Steve, and admired the fact you had a go at such a raw subject. I think we're all trying to make sense of this mess. It led me back to a poem I read ages ago that I love called Jerusalem by James Fenton. Here's a link if you don't already know it...

And I also thought of those lines from Auden

May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.