Poems of Society

Society is a vast category in which all kinds of artistic endeavour are possible.  My poetry under this heading is diverse in its subject matter, reflecting all sorts of experiences with people in daily living.  Sometimes this can lead to poetry about the lives of individuals (I've written a couple about members of my own family), or situations (such as waking in hospital after an operation), or behaviours (such as habit). In surveying my work overall, I find a few common themes.  Increasingly my focus has moved to what I regard as the idiosyncrasies of modern living: the obsession with technology, with security, with immediate gratification, and so on.  This lends itself to satire, which is the underlying tone of Spirit of the Times and You Must Have ID.  Satire is also evident in poems I have written about bureaucracy, though there you might find an all-too-easy slide into frustration and anger, as in The Glass Cage, which is listed under Poems of Loss and Strife.   

The twentieth century produced poetry that was quite brilliant in its commentary on society, Yeats, T.S. Eliot and Auden being just three examples. Among my favourites from previous centuries are Pope, Shakespeare and Chaucer.  There is a particular skill, which I much admire, in using the voices of people written about (that is, not the poet) in making their own kind of poetry - Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood for instance.  In this regard, Thomas and Eliot have inspired some of my more recent writing.


THE SOUL’S COMPLAINT

 

We are too much flesh:

The bloated gut and fetid breath,

The feet which pained plod

Forever pointed unto death.

 

We are too much noise,

With techno-scaffolding tricked out –

Halo swapped for headphone,

All bulk and chatter and shout.

 

I want a better life:

To thin to an idea, a sprite, a sigh,

Free to live as God would have,

To be just I.

 

 

SPIRIT OF THE TIMES

 

Busy busy busy be

Busy busy busy be

Pound the street

Remorselessly

Race and chase

All novelty

 

Around downtown

Wear a frown

There’s cause for worry

Cause for hurry

Wear a frown

Around downtown

 

Spend and get

Without let

Bloat and grow

Promote promote

Nail success

Exceed excess

 

Light the fire of desire

Copulate populate

Get some fun

On the run

Get the beat

Repeat repeat

 

Can I grab

Yes let’s grab

But make it short

Make it short

Short and sweet

Strong and sweet

 

Now we’ve got

Now we’ve got

Near what we want

Now we’re hot

But still we’re cool

A crazy lot.

 

 

YOU MUST HAVE ID

 

From birthing all our livelong lives

We seek our liberty:

Invasion’s horror we detest.

So we are held in liberty

Thankfully

At our own behest.

 

ID please.

Do you have ID?

 

At every step along the way

We have security:

To hold a job

Join a club

Pay a debt

Surf the net

Drive a car

Enter a bar

Send a note

Cast a vote.

To guard our hard-won liberty

We have (thank God) security.

 

ID please.

Do you have ID?

 

When Robin Hood roamed our lands

He had a forest to negotiate;

We have log-ins, passwords, coded commands

That endlessly proliferate.

Though only words (not even words),

They secure identity:

Identity security like iron bands.

 

ID please.

Do you have ID?

 

*fre^dom*is**********#

**fre^dom*was*******#

***fre^dom*lost******#

****fre^dom*will*be**#

*****fre^dom*trapped*#

******in^security*****#

 

ID please.

Do you have ID?

 

Alphanumeric manacles

Wrap round our lives like tentacles.

We need them for our liberty.

Ah, the tyranny of

Security.

Such irony.

 

ID please.

Do you have ID?

 






with techno-scaffolding tricked out


halo swapped for headphone


to thin to an idea, a sprite, a sigh


to be just I


busy busy busy be


race and chase all novelty


around downtown wear a frown


nail success, exceed excess


bloat and grow, promote promote


copulate, populate


now we're hot but still we're cool


when Robin Hood roamed our lands he had a forest to negotiate


identity security like iron bands


alphanumeric manacles


the tyranny of security, such irony


ID please, do you have ID?