Sunday, 23 September 2007


Fine writing from Africa, Latin America and the Middle East


He was the last armed prophet - and became the first truly global icon of the modern era following his death at the hands of the CIA-backed Bolivian army.

Complex and charismatic, Ernesto “Che” Guevara has been immortalised in popular culture as the archetypal, self-sacrificing rebel with a cause.

His martyr’s death on 9 October 1967 transformed him into the poster-boy of revolution - but also inspired poets and songwriters the world over to put pen to paper.

To coincide with the 40th anniversary of his execution, Che in Verse reproduces 134 poems and songs from 53 countries about this enigmatic Argentine-Cuban revolutionary. The book contains 19 poems by north American poets, including Allen Ginsberg, Robert Lowell, John Haines, Greg Hewett, Michael McClure and Thomas Merton.

It examines how Che was celebrated or remembered from before his death to the present day, and it explores why Guevara - himself a gun-toting poet - has achieved a level of sanctification comparable to Christ.

Edited by Gavin O’Toole and Georgina Jiménez, Che in Verse is published by Aflame Books. It brings together contributions both published and unpublished by poets and songwriters living and dead - ranging from Che’s fellow revolutionaries and anti-colonial freedom-fighters to two Nobel Prize winners, a gay rights activist, Brazil’s minister of culture, a Cistercian monk, and a Cuban prisoner of conscience languishing in the “Alcatraz of the Rockies”.

Gavin O’Toole is an academic and journalist who conducted research for Che in Verse under the auspices of the Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London, while a Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow. His first two books were Politics Latin America (2007) and the translation of Oswaldo Salazar’s From the Darkness (2007). Georgina Jiménez Reynoso is a Mexican freelance writer and translator. She has translated and written for several British newspapers and writes book and film reviews for the Latin American Review of Books.

“One radiant face driven mad with a rifle” - Allen Ginsberg, USA

“A spirit rides” - Liam Ó Comain, Ireland

“…you are the Jesus of the modern age” - K.G. Sankara Pillai, India

“… it is you who are the poet.” - Miguel Barnet, Cuba

“The worms have murdered the tiger. Che is dead.” - Joe Rosenblatt, Canada

Che in Verse, edited by Gavin O’Toole and Georgina Jiménez ISBN: 9780955233951 Distributed in North America by Independent Publishers Group (

For more information, contact: Richard Bartlett: 0779 3062327
01722 421522 Email:

Friday, 21 September 2007

Each quarter day we paid our dues

A Poem about the Clearances by a real master of words

Each quarter day we paid our dues [given title, 20 September 2007]

The Quarter Day

Sellar, Young and Loch were canny lawyers;
Writ and assignation were their powers.
Each quarter-day they took the rents, and woe
Betide all those that could not pay full due.

All three were the Duke of Sutherland’s men;
And through Helmsdale and Strathnaver ran
The promise that they swore their lord to keep:
To clear the clanns and turn the land to sheep.

They did their work. They cleared it inch and strath,
And felled all opposition to their swath.
Burning roofs and breaking walls they came
To make the clanns forget ’twas ever hame.

The dispossessed were cast into the cold:
Man and wife and weans, the sick and the old.
Their ministers told them it was God’s will,
Then dined with the lawyers, and took good fill.

Many and many walked with burden cruel
The destitution road to Ullapool,
And took the ships that packed across the sea
To foreign lands and foreign destiny.

Sellar, Young and Loch grew rich and thrived
On sheep that roamed in glens where once men lived.
They raised a glass, a bumper to success
In a country they’d filled with emptiness.

But now the sun has set; the day falls dark;
Upon the grand oak door is heard a knock.
The serving-woman comes into the hall
To tell the lawyers who has come to call.

A stranger stands before them, finely clad,
His coat and boots the best that can be had.
“Good sirs, I greet you all this night,” says he,
“For I know tomorrow is quarter-day.

“MacLeod of Kildonan bids me hither,
And glad he’d be to see you all together.
The last he saw you was the quarter-day
When his father pleaded more time to pay.

“His family by you was stripped of land
And cast into the weather out of hand.
Below the glen they watched their houses burn,
And thence were driven, never to return.

“A weary road they travelled to its ends;
Cold and hunger were their only friends;
Until at last a sombre ship they found
To part forever from their native ground.

“But all’s not lost: dark clouds are silver-lined
And fickle Providence may turn out kind.
America’s where MacLeod has made his hame
And prospers there to fortune and to fame.

“In consequence of which, he bids to you
This purse of gold, which now I lay in view;
And further bids me, gentlemen, to say
He clears his debt to you this quarter-day.”

Loch looks to Young, Young to Sellar the same,
All three wondering what’s the stranger’s game.
Good lawyers are not so easily caught:
They know that payment seldom comes unfraught.

Says Loch, “If MacLeod has paid in full grace,
The Duke may deign to give him back his place.
Which being so, we’ll take the money here
And you may tell MacLeod all debts are clear.”

“Not so,” says the stranger. “There is a fee
That you must pay this quarter-day to me.
Look not startled. Sit, whilst I enlarge
The case to you, and then you’ll know the charge.

“The young MacLeod now lives content at last,
And for himself all bitterness is past.
But his father was broken unto death
And left a curse upon his dying breath.

His gentle mother died in like despair;
His sisters, from disease and want of care.
Payment for these souls, gentlemen, is due,
And that’s the charge that now I lay on you.

“You need not stir. I’ll hear no argument,
Nor is there need to sign a document.
Your warrant is your breath; and that I’ll draw
Until the hour you breathe it nevermore.”

The stranger smiles; and now they see his coat
Unbutton all the way from skirt to throat;
And in its folds, the lawyers freeze to see
Their souls enmembered and entombed, all three.

The stranger has gone; the hall is dark and still;
The fires die, leaving a graveyard chill.
The lawyers sit as dead men, faces grey,
To meet the dawn of their last quarter-day.

Ailean MacGlas
20 September 2007

Monday, 17 September 2007


by Matt McGinn

Dominie, Dominie
There was nane like John MacLean,
The fighting Dominie

Tell me where ye’re gaun, lad, and who ye’re gaun to meet--
I’m headed for the station that’s in Buchanan Street,
I’ll join 200,000 that’s there to meet the train
That’s bringing back to Glasgow our own dear John MacLean

Tell me whaur he’s been, lad, and why has he been there?
They’ve had him in the prison for preaching in the Square,
For Johnny held a finger at all the ills he saw,
He was right side o’ the people, but he was wrong side o’ the law:

Johnny was a teacher in one o’ Glasgow’s schools
The golden law was silence but Johnny broke the rules,
For a world of social justice young Johnny couldnae wait,
He took his chalk and easel to the men at the shipyard gate.

The leaders o’ the nation made money hand o’er fist
By grinding down the people by the fiddle and the twist,
Aided and abetted by the preacher and the Press --
John called for revolution and he called for nothing less:

The bosses and the judges united as one man
For Johnny was a danger to their ’14-’18 plan,
They wanted men for slaughter in the fields of Armentiers,
John called upon the people to smash the profiteers:

They brought him to the courtroom in Edinburgh toun,
But still he didnae cower, he firmly held his ground,
And stoutly he defended his every word and deed,
Five years it was his sentence in the jail at Peterheid:

Seven months he lingered in prison misery
Till the people rose in fury, in Glasgow and Dundee,
Lloyd George and all his cronies were shaken to the core,
The prison gates were opened, and John was free once more:

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

9/11 07

9/11 07



Peter Burton

September 2007

Wednesday, 5 September 2007


"Human beings make their own Hell " DH


An archetypical Western in modern urban dress
brutal lyrical one-liners and hard-boiled compassion

Socialism is in the air as Anarchists get scapegoated

crime , political corruption , human passions, jealousy,
cupidity and hypocrisy intertwine with tarnished saints
and sentimental sinners as
key characters betray principles to satisfy baser needs

Peter Burton September 2007

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

The Cook

The Cook

Some say she is just a big tease
put on the telly to make men
shake at the knees

But I say that in actual reality
she’s just proud and confident
about her own sexuality

She’s wise and intelligent
progressive as well
a voluptuous ,smouldering ,brown-eyed belle

Pete Burton