Paul Steffan Jones 1st


 

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Category: Poetry

40,000 Heroes (approx)


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2020-06-05

Hospital ship 

a sailing cathedral that brings its crosses

and enormous floating decks of sick beds

beautiful impressive hopeful 

and quietly terrifying

cruise ships suddenly

no one wants or 

wants to be aboard

no port in this health storm

the talk the imagery is of hospital wards

I've spent too much time this year 

in the halls of our National Health Service

but I wasn’t to know

entertainment is replaced 

by the thirst for information

which in turn is replaced 

by a thirst for entertainment

anything that will blank out

the unfolding horror 

every day we sit down

turn on our televisions

and watch the Government update

Ministers seem to be getting younger

at least those that have avoided symptoms

and as the statistics pile up

into a metastatic mess of numerals

we begin to feel casualty-drunk

and unconfident that the Cabinet

is up to the task in hand

so many people are dying

that they are beginning to have names

attached to their passing

such as the comic Eddie Large

I didn't know he was Scottish

the way our accents are quietly dropped

Honor Blackman expires

age 94 of "natural causes" 

which is now double speak 

for non Covid-19 death

farewell Pussy Galore

Posted in: Poetry | 0 comments

Amen


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2020-06-04

Our World King who art in Heaven

abhorred be thy name

thy fiefdom scum

thy will be dumb in slums 

as it is in Number 10

give us this day our daily dead

and forgive us our trepassses

as we forgive those that trespass against us 

and lead us not into infection

but deliver us our Hermes

for thine is the freedom

of power and fake stories

forever and never

amen

Posted in: Poetry | 7 comments

Isolation


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2020-05-29

Two young men in the back of a small car

accepting balloons of nitrous oxide

the drum and bass booming

they turn it down a touch

as I approach

but are not laughing

what sort of animals are they?

I pull in next to them

the only other vehicle

on this bumpy patch of elevated ground

the gateway to the hills

to a sanctuary that has no walls 

but a view

a saner place of isolation 

in a curfew

what sort of animal am I?

considering whether a drone 

winging and glinting in sunlight

could be making a note

of my car’s registration number

for the incipient police state

the sheriffs of our private moments

getting away from it all

from nothing at all

what sort of animals are we?

Posted in: Poetry | 0 comments

Penteulu


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2020-05-26

Our loved chieftain

our revered penteulu

a fulcrum to us dreaming men

in the counting house of valour

a cogent leader

a tangent's goader

a guardian's guardian

a helmet against life’s iniquities

your troop of spear pointers

pennants fluttering

neither scabbard-scuppered

nor burdened with hilt-guilt

but astride hungry-mouthed mounts

the thin line of depleted sons

facing the advance of

marauding North Men

Mercians and Scotti

we dragooned Demetae dragons

toe to toe with those who dare 

a foothold in the shoes of our country

and then at Hyddgen again

feuding uphill

rising to the Flemings

with peat encrusted shins

flying over the tussocks

on skirmish shriek lungs

in memory of our history

in defence of our homeland

in the service of our captain

and the increment of tales

to be told around merciful firesides 

in the threadbare centuries

of our mute aftermath

our petrified veneration

(penteulu- the rank of captain of the household bodyguard in medieval Wales. In modern usage it means head of a household or, more literally, head of a family)

Posted in: Poetry | 0 comments

Houses of The Unholy


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2020-05-24

How many homes does

the Secretary of State

for Housing Communities

and Local Government need?

how many houses does anyone need?

those deprived property-rich people

trying to break out of the boredom

to be in another splendid isolation

200 miles or more from where 

they live most of the time

incurring the wrath of locals

vigilant against the spread of germs

and holiday home owners

and the "stars"

(what does a star actually do?)

suggesting that they feel a little

incarcerated in their mansions

on video links live from throne-like wicker chairs

on patios on which starter homes could be built

or a kitchen for the 5000

(who did they used to be?)

and did local authorities succeed

in accommodating homeless people

when they were discovered to be

especially vulnerable to the virus

though they had never previously managed to do so?

and how much longer

will we have to entertain

our double-standard political "leadership"

directing us to stay in our homes

no matter how grand

no matter how cramped

no matter how merely aspirational?

Posted in: Poetry | 0 comments

R and The Big Numbers


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2020-05-18

How the past looks from the present

and how our present will look in the future

Dunkirk is invoked for the ten thousandth time 

while the Prime Minister lies in Intensive Care 

during the biggest crisis of the last seven decades

masks for NHS heroes

soon we’ll all be wearing them

and the headwear of some Muslim women

will make more sense

perhaps we’ll learn to leave them alone

grim economic data arrives early 

wealth versus lives 

vacancies and candidates

the thinned-out workforce

of the New Deal for the Dead

feels like this is the end of something

that no matter when or how we leave the lockdown 

things are going to be radically different 

maybe whole countries will disappear

and a power vacuum ensues

since the outset of the crisis

the catalogue of complaints that hospital 

and care home staff did not have enough 

of the correct safety items to do their jobs 

safely have never really gone away

a Government that had appeared asleep at the wheel

dreaming of a bit of a skive with an 80 seat majority 

ushering in what would most likely be a no deal Brexit 

passed up five weeks of preparation 

during which they sent 400000 items 

of Personal Protection Equipment to China 

which was very public spirited of them

though in 2016 their own risk assessment had

highlighted the importance of PPE and ventilators 

in the event of a pandemic

the whole nation follows the progress 

of an order of gowns and masks

delayed on airport tarmac in Turkey

almost like on a tracking app

there’s no evidence of real urgency

and finally when it does arrive

much of it is rejected as substandard

the lubrication of international trade routes

jammed by inefficiency or worse

the glorious dead the glorious dead

in the USA armed and masked men 

protest at the continued lockdown 

and the impact on their livelihoods 

despite their death toll exceeding that 

of their armed forces in the Vietnam War

and the irony that their lack of social distancing

whilst protesting could come back to haunt them

in a way that would disarm their guns

our Ministers claim the virus does not discriminate 

citing as proof the hapless fact 

that the Prime Minister 

the Health Secretary 

the Chief Medical Officer 

and Prince Charles 

have had symptoms

with the PM actually shaking the hands of Coronavirus patients

though the fatality rate for BAME citizens 

is much higher as it is for the poor 

with areas already weakened by austerity measures

more badly affected than the more affluent areas

the glorious dead the glorious dead

a newspaper article shows photos of deserted cities 

like something imagined by Wells or Wyndham

welcome to our science fiction normality

just look out of your windows

(getting the R number below 1)

we've significantly exceeded the 20000 death toll 

previously considered acceptable by 

the Chief Medical Officer for England 

and the Government Chief Scientific Adviser

so where does that leave us? 

why does the Government talk and act like this is a success? 

the Minister for International Trade

resigns after being found to have intimidated 

a member of the public during a dispute

the Home Secretary however has survived

bullying accusations in three Departments

meanwhile in the real world of real people

earning a living dealing with real people

a store security guard is shot dead in Michigan 

for enforcing a mandatory face mask rule

they came back to slay him apparently

the glorious dead the glorious dead

(the stats fiddlers)

the Health Secretary is insincere 

about meeting his own target 

of 100000 tests a day

by including thousands that had 

merely been put in the post

capacity over substance

targets over results

big numbers sounding good even if they're meaningless

(the deniers)

the Foreign Secretary says it is unhelpful 

to compare the death tolls of different countries 

especially as his now has the highest in Europe

despite the previous daily sharing 

of a comparison chart of countries' figures 

this graph is quietly dropped 

as touchiness and embarrassment take over

and the truth disappears more completely from view

the enormity of events beginning to oppress and depress

our country seen as the Sick Man of Europe 

but one must not forget that this 

is the group of individuals and the mindset 

that allowed Grenfell Towers to happen

the glorious dead the glorious dead

(guided by the science)

a professor who had seemed alert to the danger

resigns from a body of scientists 

advising the Government on the pandemic 

as it was discovered that his married lover

had visited him twice during the lockdown 

more evidence of hypocritical behaviour 

by our supposed leaders and educated persons

the magical thinking of an unmagical citizen

a young man from Singapore is beaten up in England 

because the attacker thought he was Chinese 

and therefore apparently guilty of being a disease carrier 

the magical thinking of another unmagical citizen

Nightingale hospitals went up in record time 

they don't seem to have been used much

which is a good thing but how many 

hospitals did our Prime Minister promise us 

in the most recent General Election campaign? 

our suppressed fatality total creeps ever closer to 60000

which was the number of UK civilians killed in World War Two 

this period of history we’re living through is a kind of war

but not the kind the politicians allude to

the glorious dead the glorious dead

and after a couple of months of unrelenting tragedy

it’s revealed following an investigation

by a newspaper and a TV news show

that there's a monumental warehouse 

somewhere in brownfield England

a PPE palace stuffed 

full of 62000 pallets of the stuff 

ready for a major health emergency

some of its aisles are blocked 

with forklift trucks unable to access these 

one former employee went on record to say

that it would take all night to load just one van 

thank God the Army was on hand to sort it out

funny how this was kept quiet 

in the seesawing debates on this matter

had they forgotten about it despite paying 

over £10 million a year for this storage facility?

who is responsible for this and other omissions

and where did we lose our country?

the glorious dead the glorious dead

Posted in: Poetry | 2 comments

Victory in Europe?


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2020-05-09

He's dog-tired

in the doghouse

dogged by 6 weeks of restrictions

and daily Coronavirus updates

feels like he's been sold a pup

by the dog in a manger democratic process

and is sad that Dave Greenfield 

and Florian Schneider have died

his world will be quieter 

and less amazing without their input

he tries to order fence paint online

but doesn’t have much luck

and does not want to pay

the profiteers’ prices

so he ekes out the battleship grey

in keeping with the times

there's a bank holiday coming up

VE Day 75 celebrations with no crowds

with hardly any humans apart

from socially distant singers

aren't they anyway?

at least Nigel Farage Mark Francois 

Steve Baker and their ilk appear 

to have been switched off

or muted or worse

surprising that they seem to be

invisible now that true statesmanship

is what is desperately required

but then they are not alone

thank God there are endless TV repeats

of extended highlights of football games

of forty year vintage

nostalgia the default reaction

to a national disaster

to any uneasy reality

an escape from the horror

that the Government could not govern

a restlessness is everywhere

an almost suppressed electricity

sparking around garden gates and cars

that have not been started for some time

and we begin to realise how 

close to animals we actually are

the sun is shining

the beaches and hills are calling

and alcohol sales soaring

the pent-up energy of Spring

with a capstone on it

Posted in: Poetry | 0 comments

The Platitude Attitude


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2020-04-20

Captain Tom for Prime Minister 

or Health Secretary if that 

particular promotion isn’t available

or anyone else really instead 

of the current cumbersome incumbents

this embodiment of unpreparedness

these foggers of obfuscation

the economy

wealth versus lives 

the workforce dwindling

for the ghost gig

the leadership inadvertently solves

the crisis in social care 

through neglect and amnesia

maybe that's how the prisons will go too

no relations but expensive

to the taxpayer

the elderly and the guilty

captive audiences

sitting ducks


but the baby was saved

the robots wait in the wings with 

virtual mass graves for virtual funerals

and there's an unexpected reprieve for the environment

some good comes from every evil

some light in each darkness

(the Chinese revise the Wuhan death toll upwards by 50% 

people are not as malleable as data

but when they’re gone they’re gone

and become data though the poets 

try to breathe fire into that clay)

Norman Hunter

a Leeds United great 

plague victim

bites your legs

glory glory

the Health and Social Care Secretary 

offers care workers a badge

yes a badge

a fogging badge

a sticking plaster on a disaster

does it get any better than this? 

(no, not much but we have each other

and the air we gratefully breathe

and the baby that was saved)

ground control to Captain Tom

ground control to Captain Tom

Posted in: Poetry | 3 comments

Lockdown Tales


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2020-04-10

Sunbathers on beaches in a lockdown

and a new type of offensiveness is born 

one that is inflamed by citizens doing 

what was ordinary two weeks ago 

but is now essentially criminal

and under scrutiny

some of the land's private wealth 

is revealed in the news of owners 

caught visiting their second homes

among them those extraordinary beings

who are our well-funded leaders

exhorting us mere plebeians

to stay at home protect the NHS save lives

the dual-edged maxims of governance

the mantras we do not all follow

do as I say not as I do

our two tier society

where did we lose our country?

Dunkirk is invoked for the ten thousandth time

while in Russia a medic assassinates 

five noisy neighbours

our inessential travel and inessential purchases

are sex workers on a furlough?

grim economic data arrives early

a power vacuum awaits

give me gilded horseshit

I’ll be happy with it

but won't bet on it

fear Easter when the sun shines

and we all want to come out and play

in the changed reality

the substituted stage set

the overloaded crucifixes

but fear more greatly an Easter

that doesn't rise in judgement

on its ritual structures

Posted in: Poetry | 0 comments

Roar of The Herd


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2020-04-03

Build up herd immunity

selves as cattle

livestock locked down

in slaughterhouse towns

stay home 

protect the NHS 

and save lives

protect and survive

taking back control

the language of our various crises

the slogans of our desperate times

the litany of avoidable lunacy

an opportunity to inform on those

who veer from the restrictions 

of the pandemic's regime of new laws 

with new rules to learn

the requested change of behaviour

of travel and purchase patterns

the twitching net curtains

betraying an increased interest 

in the essential comings and goings

of one’s dear neighbours

funny how we find our true place

when we’re all in this together

and there's no let up from spam

its faceless operators still having

to steal a living as thousands die

may these gangster spamsters

be eaten alive by their hamsters

as other life forms colonise

the polluted human settlements

and the air is cleansed again

there’ll never be a Spring

quite like this one

until the next time

the lemming army of hoarders

is marching over the cliff edge

of dried teats and no deals

with their gluttonous supermarket trolleys

and who’s profiteering from 

Personal Protection Equipment

ventilators and medication?

who actually is in charge

of the looting the delays

and the half-heartedness?

my grandmothers could have done better

they were not hampered

by feelings of entitlement

but knew from real life drama

what urgency demanded

where to start in Ravi Shankar’s back catalogue

now I've got the time?

pandemonium reigns

now wash your hands

there’ll never be a Spring

quite like this one

until the next time

Posted in: Poetry | 2 comments
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