Wednesday, 31 January 2007


by a California prisoner, May 2006

Imagine a world where time stands still
Where nothing you do is of your own free will
Stripped of your freedom, your hopes, your pride
Surrounded by strangers with no place to hide

Imagine a place where you?re told what to wear
A place where no one is allowed to grow hair
You are told each day you?re not to talk
And where and when you can and cannot walk

A world where you sleep, surrounded by hate
Where all you can do is just sit and wait
Imagine a world where you have no choice
Where you can?t even think because of the noise

A world where you work but get no pay
And made to feel worthless each and every day
A world where days crawl like a snail
Where all you have hope for is a piece of mail

A world where you have to eat real quick
Does this sound like a world that would make you sick?
Imagine a world surrounded by wire
Able to walk from this place is my greatest desire

A world like this is hard to conceive
Yet here I am and cannot leave

For some more prisoner poems of this standard see:

Monday, 29 January 2007


Born to Boogie

Of all the singers or groups that have had a profound effect on me, of which there were many, I would have to say that none had such an impact as T-Rex.

As an impressionable 15 year old who was bumbling through adolescence and trying desperately to establish some kind of street-cred, T-Rex came out of nowhere with this new sound that hit me like the proverbial ‘sledgehammer’.

T-Rex, formerly known as Tyrannosaurus Rex, (who would have guessed?) a glam-rock band of the 70s fronted by the diminutive Marc Bolan with his trade-mark corkscrew hair and elfish looks gave rock and roll a whole new sound and image that quickly catapulted the band into the forefront of the music industry. Not only did the band attain an almost cult status, Marc Bolan became a fashion icon through his wearing of kitschy and ostentatious garb both on and off stage thereby setting a trend that was quickly adopted by many of the groups contemporaries such as, ‘Sweet’, ‘Gary Glitter and the Glitter Band’, and ‘Slade’ to mention but a few.

In the early years Tyrannosaurus Rex consisting of Marc Bolan (vocals and guitar) and Mickey Finn (percussions) had only ever performed acoustically with a very limited fan-base in and around the London university campus’ scene. Feeling that they were not realising there full potential Marc somewhat reluctantly decided to try a new approach by introducing electric guitar, Bass, and Drums into the band. It was also decided to hyphenate the name to T-Rex (this was considered easier to remember). This formula coincided with the release of ‘Ride a White Swan’ the first of many singles that when released wasted no time and shot to the top of the singles charts and launched the band on a meteoric rise to stardom.

With the phenomenal success of their first single, T-Rex released yet another single soon after entitled ‘Hot Love’ which proved to be an even bigger hit than ‘Ride a White Swan’ and was followed with their first aptly named album ‘Electric Warrior’. I would have to agree that Marc Bolan was a bit of a narcissist in that he believed it was his ingenuity in bringing the group from relative obscurity into becoming one of the countries biggest ‘Glam-Rock’ bands ever. I tend to agree with him!

Needless to say, like all teenagers past, present, and future, I could hardly contain myself when my Idols T-rex were playing at the local disco, I would be up there on the dance floor in my skin-tight crushed velvet flared trousers, platform shoes (?) satin jacket and wearing my sisters make-up (which I used to smuggle out of the house in case my father ever seen me wearing it!), bearing in mind, my day job was working as ‘Steel-fixer’ on building sites! How would I ever live it down??

Still in the immortal words of another Glam-Rocker of that era a certain Rod Stewart when he penned the words we were:

In and out of jobs running free, waging war with society,
My dad said we looked ridiculous, but boy we broke some hearts!


Radical Podcast

Johnny Cash singing Hurt on YouTube

Friday, 26 January 2007

Anti-Slavery ballad by Robert Burns

Robert Burns'The Slave’s Lament—' (1792)

It was in sweet Senegal that my foes did me enthrall
For the lands of Virginia-ginia O;
Torn from that lovely shore, and must never see it more,
And alas! I am weary, weary O!
Torn from &c.

All on that charming coast is no bitter snow and frost,
Like the lands of Virginia-ginia O;
There streams for ever flow, and there flowers for ever blow,
And alas! I am weary, weary O!
There streams &c.

The burden I must bear, while the cruel scourge I fear,
In the lands of Virginia-ginia O;
And I think on friends most dear with the bitter, bitter tear,
And Alas! I am weary, weary O!
And I think &c.

Saturday, 20 January 2007

Trainspotting: A Railway Story

Trainspotting: A Railway Story by The Reverend Irvine Welsh

Thomas The Tanked-Up Engine
Wis playin’ wi’ his Mainline Friends
He wis puffin’ like a shite auld choo-choo
He couldnae chuff-chuff roond the bends

So Big Jimmy the fuckin’ Red Engine
Rolled up ‘n gie Tam a wee smoke
“Can I interest ye in some refreshments?” he said“
‘Cos things go better wi’ coke”

“Ye can keep yer toasted sangwidges ‘n snacks
An yer individual fruit pies
Ma buffet car’s sorted fer e’s ‘n whizz
Help yersel tae the goods, privatise!”

“Toot! Toot! This fare’s just the ticket!”
Whistled Tam as he shot up the track
“Let’s take a trip through the tunnel o’ love
A have it away day oan smack!”

Whoo-whoo! What a rush! Tam wiz speedin’!
“Hullo! Railway Children! Let’s rave!”
Jenny Agutter’s whipped oaf her knickers
Tae gie Tam a special wee wave

“Look at me! Ah’m The Flyin’ Fuckin’ Scotsman!” said Tam
“Ah go jet set tae Rio - first class!
Je suis un Eurostar train trash
Adios Airdrie ya bass!”

The Fat Cuntroller wiz ootay his box
The radge wiz goin’ loco
“Yer the 2.33 tae Cowdenbeath
No Acafuckinpulco!”

“This is Virgin on the ridiculous!” said the boss
Then the buffer gie Tam the big shunt
“Yer scrap son - git oan the heave-ho express” Tam laughed
“Fuck oaf ya fat cunt-roller”

“We interrupt this poem tae make a customer service announcement
Fer youse wankers oan platform eight
We’re sorry fer the delay but the trains are oan drugs
That’s why they’re aw fuckin’ late”

Elvis McGonagall

Elvis McGonagall

Elvis McGonagall is current World Poetry slam champion and no wonder -read this.

This Land's Not Your Land: A Republican Party Protest Song By A Global Village Idiot Called Backwoodsy Guthrie

This land's not your land,
this land is our land
From Columbus, Ohio to the Florida swampland
From the corporate jungle to the redneck ranchland
This land was made by Fox TV
It's bible bashin' Disneyland
It's yippee-ai eye for an eye
It's faith, family and flagGod, guns and apple pie
This land belongs to cowboys
In Stetsons, spurs 'n' suits
We're the Wall Street, Wal-Mart-Waltons
John-Boy, Jim-Bob, Jack-Boots
In the Burger Kingdom of the Stupid
Stupid is as Stupid does
Forrest Gump is President
Yee-haw! He's one of us!
e're Starbuckin' bronco Marlboro' men
We're big chief swingin' dicks
It's John Wayne's world in Washington
We're the Capitol Hillbilly hicks
We don't read books, we do action
All-American wham bam ma'am!
Schwarzenegger Uber Alles!
Gimme five! Jean Claude Van Damme!
Rambo is not a poet
The French is arty-farty funks
We hate cheese surrender chimpanzees
We hate perverts, pansies, punks'
Cos them flip-flop pinko girly boys
Don't walk
The American Way
The Dixie Chicks are Communists
SpongeBob SquarePants is gay
Hollywood is Satan's whorehouse
It's the Sodom 'n' Gomorrah
MotelRoute 666 to Tinseltown
Is the road to burnin' hell
We ride the hosanna highway
Saddle up our SUV
We got a two-ton tank 'n' a ten-gallon hatO-I-L spells victory
We're Team USA cheerleaders
Go! Go! Go! The Pentagon!Shakin' 9/11 pompoms 24/7 Armageddon?
Bring it on!We're the evangelical vandals
Shit-kick, kick, kickin' down Mecca's door
Rainin' baptist bombs on Babylon
Behold their Shock 'n' Awe!
We're pumpin'out Mohammed's diesel
Fillin' up Christ's limousine
Hallelujah Halliburton!
Glory! Glory! Gasoline!
We got no time for risin' oceans,
Ozone layers or polar bears Kyoto - is that a Japanese car?
It's gettin' hot in here - who cares?
We export Nike swoosh democracy
Handmade with Asian sweat
And golden arches of McFreedom
Built on African debt
That Chuck Darwin was a monkey boy
His science fiction's over
The Almighty made us, that's a factWay to go Jehovah!
The American Dream is born again
It's a big name brand New Deal
It's a holy roller Coca-ColaProzac Happy Meal
It's Britney Spears 'n' Bud Lite beers
It's Super-Size 'n' Super Bowl
It's Dunkin' Donuts on your mind
It's botox for your soul
We don't spare no cash for trailer trash
You gotta help yourself Jose
We wipe our ass with dollar-bills
Da-doo Enron-ron have a nice day
We're the bullet-head neo-conmen
We're the mob that franchise fear
Cat Stevens is an evil terrorist
Folk with beards ain't welcome here
We zip 'em up like chocolate oranges
Shackle, cage, interrogate
We protect Wild West values
Strip, abuse, humiliate
We don't murder unborn babies
We're pro-life NRA
We Kentucky fry deathrow deadbeats
We're electric chairmen KKK
We're the Saxon sons of Uncle Sam
Our blood's red, white 'n' blue
There ain't no black in the Stars 'n' Stripes
It don't fly for Apache or Sioux
We have loosed the fateful lightning
Of our terrible swift sword
We're the Pentecostal patriots
Kick-butt and praise The Lord!
This land's not your land, this land is our land
From the buffalo Badlands to the cotton-pickin' Dixieland
From the Dust Bowl wasteland to the Presley Graceland
This land is Jesusland! Amen!

Elvis McGonagall .For more of his poems :

Shelleys' Poems

Friday, 19 January 2007

Heinrich Heine

Heinrich Heine

Heinrich Heine
WD Jackson writes: In 1843 Heinrich Heine – who had been living in Paris for over a decade – revisited his native Germany, where he spent altogether about two months. On his return he wrote the 2056 lines of Deutschland – Ein Wintermärchen. At the end of this poem he acknowledges Aristophanes as his master, but there is a lot more to Deutschland than social comment or political satire, and like many of Heine’s works – together with his life and opinions in general – it resists easy categorization. Heine had moved to Paris in 1831, inspired by the July Revolution, which deposed Charles X, the last Bourbon king, and placed the citizen-king Louis-Philippe on the throne. The complexities of Heine’s politics present, as JL Sammons expresses it, “a rather knotty problem of interpretation . . . Towards Louis-Philippe Heine could be very critical, but also very sympathetic, and he seems to have become increasingly sympathetic as the 1840s went on. In Heine’s iconology king and poet were spiritual brothers, and this attitude informed much of his ironic view of the citizen-king. ‘Kings, like great poets,’ he wrote with a straight face, ‘cannot defend themselves and must bear lies circulated about them in silent patience’” (Heinrich Heine – A Modern Biography, 1979). Heine, however, defended himself – usually by some form of attack – on every imaginable occasion. In 1834 he met the almostilliterate 19-year-old French shop assistant, Crescence Eugénie Mirat, who was later to become his wife. A further reason for staying in Paris was that his work had been banned along with that of other liberals by the German authorities – and while in Germany he was in some danger of being arrested. Apart from another trip to Germany in 1844, Heine was to spend the remainder of his life in Paris, where he died in 1856.

Of the following poems, the first is a more or less literal translation.“Hoffmann von F”, who is mentioned in it, is Hoffmann von Fallersleben, who was dismissed from his Breslau professorship in 1842 for his ironically titled Unpolitical Songs. Hoffmann became a kind of 19thcentury beatnik poet, travelling about from inn to inn with his guitar and his popular songs, which Heine disliked intensely, regarding them as symptomatic of the beginning of the end of high art – one of the prices the world would have to pay for the rise of democracy. The second poem, ‘Liverpool Revisited – A Winter’s Tale’, is developed from the first and also from other sections of Deutschland – Ein Wintermärchen, incorporating in addition translations and adaptations of ‘Das ist der alte Märchenwald’, ‘Abschied von Paris’ (or ‘Adieu à Paris’) and ‘Karl I’. The latter part of the poem alludes as well to Heine’s ‘The Slave Ship‘,published in MPT 8. Van de Smissen is the ship’s doctor and van Koek its supercargo. Heine spent some time in England in 1827 but did not, as far as I know, travel to Liverpool, although his father had once had business contacts there and Harry Heine himself (he became ‘Heinrich’ only on his conversion to Protestantism in 1825) had been named after a Liverpool merchant called ‘Mr Harry’. In any case, for those unfamiliar with Liverpool’s topography, which comes into the poem, the Anglican and Roman Catholic cathedrals stand at either end of Hope Street and the pub, The Philharmonic, is about halfway between them. A “jigger” is a back entry. As for Maggie May, she is treated here as a kind of tutelary deity of the city, much as Heine treats ‘Hammonia’ as the goddess of Hamburg in some of the most amusing – and scatological – sections of Deutschland (XXIII-XXVI).
In MPT 5 Daniel Weissbort wrote: ‘For many translators, it seems, a threshold has been crossed, an era of self-consciousness entered, making it increasingly hard to limit oneself exclusively or unreflectively to the work in hand.’ With this in mind, even a fairly loose imitation – which is partly what ‘Liverpool Revisited’ consists of – is a form of variation or commentary on its original(s) which may actually be going only a step or two further than what we usually think of as translation. The tension between what a writer actually wrote and what he could have written is in any case a frequently enough productive one in all but the most literal of translators’ minds. Furthermore, this particular imitation is intended, directly and indirectly, as a meditation as well on the question of “Why translate?” Over the threshold, perhaps – but not out of the garden.

Finally, one or two notes on the subject of slavery – developed from‘The Slave-Ship’ – in ‘Liverpool Revisited’. As is well known, Liverpool grew to dominate trade not only in Britain but in Europe during the 18th century: “Almost every man in Liverpool is a merchant . . . The attractive African meteor has so dazzled their ideas, that almost every order of people is interested in a Guinea cargo. Many of the small vessels are fitted out by attornies, drapers, ropers, grocers, tallow-chandlers, barbers, taylors &c” (J Wallace, History of Liverpool, 1795). The enormous profits derived from the slave-trade were invested in numerous enterprises, including banking, and Heywoods Bank, which is mentioned in the poem, was one of the earliest banks to be founded in Liverpool – in 1773.This bank was taken over by the Bank of Liverpool in 1883, which later became part of Martins Bank and more recently part of Barclays

Thursday, 18 January 2007

DH Lawrence Political Poems

Thanks to Alan for these.

O! Start A Revolution

O! start a revolution ,somebody !
not to get the money
but to lose it forever .
O! start a revolution , somebody!
not to install the working classes
but to abolish the working classes forever
and have a world of men .

Kill Money

Kill money , put money out of existence .
It is a perverted instinct ,
a hidden thoughtwhich rots the brain ,
the blood , the bones , the stones , the soul.
Make up your mind about it all:
that society must establish itself upon a different principle
from the one we’ve got now.
We must have the courage of mutual trust.
We must have the modesty of simple living.
And the individual must have his house ,
food and fire all free - like a bird.

DH Lawrence

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Brechts' Works

Brechts' Works

"Brecht was that rare phenomenon: a great poet for whom poetry is an almost everyday visitation and drawing of breath...there is no doubt that the two great German poets of the first half of this century were Rilke and Brecht" George Steiner

Robesons' Lyrics

All Robesons' Lyrics

Ol' Man River

Paul Bustill Robeson Bio

Bio of Paul Bustill Robeson

Social Reformer, Singer, Athlete, and Actor. Considered one of the great American “Renaissance men” and the son of an escaped slave, he was the 1919 valedictorian of Rutgers University, where he also won fifteen varsity letters in football, baseball, basketball, and track & field. He graduated from Columbia Law School in 1923, but soon left his practice to pursue a career in the performing arts. He became known as a master of Black Spiritual music, employing his formidable baritone in international tours. His performances brought wide recognition to this uniquely American genre and Robeson would meet with political leaders like Jomo Kenyatta, Jawaharlal Nehru, and several members of the Soviet Politboro. He would also perform in films, both in musical and dramatic roles. His performance of “Old Man River” in James Whale’s 1936 film “Show Boat” became legendary, both for its quality and for Robeson’s purposeful changing of the lyrics "I'm tired of livin' and 'feared of dyin’" to the more activist "I must keep fightin' until I'm dying." Working in more serious forms, he premiered Earl Robinson’s multi-ethnic cantata “Ballad for Americans” on CBS radio in 1939; he would eventually perform in twenty-five languages. In addition to his creative work, Robeson used his personal prominence to push for social and political reform. He supported the Spanish partisans against Franco’s fascist Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War, raised funds for refugees from Hitler’s Germany well before such activities were fashionable, and organized a coalition that challenged President Truman to support an anti-lynching law in 1945. Widely criticized by American conservatives for his sometimes-socialist political views, he was accused of communist activities by Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy. His passport was revoked in 1950, preventing him from traveling abroad until its restoration in 1958. Undaunted, he continued to perform and work for civil rights causes, singing at Carnegie Hall and publishing his outspoken biography “Here I Stand” in 1960, all while becoming adept at speaking Chinese. When asked by a critic why he did not just stay in the Soviet Union, he replied: “Because my father was a slave, and my people died to build this country, and I am going to stay here and be part of it just like you. And no fascist-minded people will drive me from it. Is that clear?” Paul Robeson was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996, and in 2004 the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp in his honor.

'Address of Beelzebub'

A monologue not taught in schools or seldom recited at Burns suppers

'Address of Beelzebub'

Long life, my lord, an' health be yours,
Unskaith'd by hunger'd Highland boors!
Lord grant nae duddie, desperate beggar,
Wi' dirk, claymore, or rusty trigger,

May twin auld Scotland o' a life
She likes - as lambkins like a knife! -----
Faith! you and Applecross were right
To keep the Highland hounds in sight!
I doubt na! they wad bid nae better
Than let them ance out owre the water!
Then up amang thae lakes and seas,
They'll mak what rules and laws they please:

Some daring Hancock, or a Franklin,
May set their Highland bluid a-ranklin;
Some Washington again may head them,
Or some Montgomerie, fearless, lead them;
Till (God knows what may be effected
When by such heads and hearts directed)
Poor dunghill sons of dirt an' mire
May to Patrician rights aspire!

Nae sage North now, nor sager Sackville,
To watch and premier owre the pack vile!
An' whare will ye get Howes and Clintons
To bring them to a right repentance?
To cowe the rebel generation,
An' save the honor o' the nation?
They, an' be damn'd! what right hae they
To meat or sleep or light o' day,
Far less to riches, pow'r, or freedom,
But what your lordship likes to gie them? -----

But hear, my Lord! Glengary, hear!
Your hand's owre light on them, I fear:
Your factors, grieves, trustees, and bailies,
I canna say but they do gaylies:
They lay aside a' tender mercies,
An' tirl the hullions to the birses.
Yet while they're only poind and herriet,
They'll keep their stubborn Highland spirit.
But smash them! crush them a' to spails,
An' rot the dyvors i' the jails!
The young dogs, swinge them to the labour:
Let wark an' hunger mak them sober!
The hizzies, if they're aughtlins fawsont,
Let them in Drury Lane be lesson'd!
An' if the wives an' dirty brats
Come thiggin at your doors an' yetts,
Flaffin wi' duds an' grey wi beas',
Frightin awa your deuks an' geese,
Get out a horsewhip or a jowler,
The langest thong, the fiercest growler,
An' gar the tatter'd gypsies pack
Wi' a' their bastards on their back! -----

Go on, my Lord! I lang to meet you,
An' in my 'house at hame' to greet you.
Wi' common lords ye shanna mingle:
The benmost neuk beside the ingle,
At my right han' assigned your seat

'Tween Herod's hip an' Polycrate,
Or (if you on your station tarrow)
Between Almagro and Pizarro,
A seat, I'm sure ye're weel deservin't;
An' till ye come - your humble servant,
Beelzebub (The Devil).

Man Was Made to Mourn

Full of venom for the Class based system and aristocracy

Man Was Made To Mourn.
A Dirge by Rabbie Burns
1.When chill November's surly blast
Made fields and forest bare,
One ev'ning, as I wand'red forth
Along the banks of Ayr,
I spied a man, whose aged step
Seem'd weary, worn with care,
His face was furrow'd o'er with years,
And hoary was his hair.
2.'Young stranger, whither wand'rest thou?'
Began the rev'rend Sage,
'Does thirst of wealth thy step constrain,
Or youthful pleasure's rage?
Or haply, prest with cares and woes,
Too soon thou hast began
To wander forth, with me to mourn
The miseries of Man.
3.The sun that overhangs yon moors,
Out-spreading far and wide,
Where hundreds labour to support
A haughty lordling's pride:
I've seen yon weary winter-sun
Twice forty times return;
And ev'ry time has added proofs,
That man was made to mourn.
4.'O Man! while in thy early years,
How prodigal of time!
Mis-spending all thy precious hours,
Thy glorious, youthful prime!
Alternate follies take the sway,
Licentious passions burn:
Which tenfold force gives Nature's law,
That Man was made to mourn.
5.Look not alone on youthful prime,
Or manhood's active might;
Man then is useful to his kind,
Supported is his right: But see him on the edge of life,
With cares and sorrows worn;
Then Age and Want - O ill match'd pair! --
Shew Man was made to mourn.
6.'A few seem favourites of Fate,
In Pleasure's lap carest;
Yet think not all the rich and great
Are likewise truly blest:
But oh! what crowds in ev'ry land,
All wretched and forlorn,
Thro' weary life this lesson learn,
That Man was made to mourn.
7.'Many and sharp the num'rous ills
Inwoven with our frame!
More pointed still we make ourselves
Regret, remorse, and shame!
And Man, whose heav'n-erected face
The smiles of love adorn,-- Man's inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!
8.'See yonder poor, o'erlabour'd wight,
So abject, mean, and vile,
Who begs a brother of the earth
To give him leave to toil;
And see his lordly fellow-worm
The poor petition spurn,
Unmindful, tho' a weeping wife
And helpless offspring mourn.
9.'If I'm design'd yon lordling's slave--
By Nature's law design'd-- Why was an independent wish
E'er planted in my mind?
If not, why am I subject to His cruelty, or scorn?
Or why has Man the will and pow'r
To make his fellow mourn?
10.'Yet let not this too much, my son,
Disturb thy youthful breast: This partial view of human-kind Is surely not the last!
The poor, oppressed, honest man, Had never, sure, been born,
Had there not been some recompense
To comfort those that mourn!
11.'O Death! the poor man's dearest friend,
The kindest and the best!
Welcome the hour my aged limbs
Are laid with thee at rest!
The great, the wealthy fear thy blow,
From pomp and pleasure torn,
But, oh! a blest relief to those
That weary-laden mourn!'