Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The War is (Not Really) Over

This post is about pessimism; the pessimism which descends upon most of us at one time or another, when we consider the ignorance and sheer stupidity which engulfs this piss-stain of a planet. I'm talking about those times when you're watching a news report about civil war in Libya, where we see Western bombs destroying tanks and guns supplied by Western companies to a 'brutal dictator' who was our 'ally' last month, then it cuts to a report of Saudi troops 'bringing order' to Bahrain, riding in on British-built APCs. Then maybe there's a report about record bonuses for top bankers at Goldman Sachs; a bank found guilty of fraud by the SEC, but whose chief economist has been appointed to the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, which decides UK interest rates. This story is juxtaposed with tales of cuts to incapacity benefit and housing benefit for people who never caused a single recession, ever. That sort of thing.

Then, just to cap it all, the ad break comes, but there's no relief, because all you get is the grinning face of a leathery old rock star who used to be your hero but whose balls are now firmly in the grip of The Man, as he's reduced to advertising car insurance. What do you do at that point? When you just don't feel able to fight the power any more? Because if humanity were worth saving, it wouldn't need your help. I'll tell you: you get drunk and write a bitter poem about it. Then you get a grip again:

The War is Over

Don’t try to tell me it would be more fun
to rock and rail and scream a rebel yell –
the war is over, and the bastards won.

It’s not the Devil or Attila the Hun
who wants to know you’ve got a soul to sell.
Don’t try to tell me it would be more fun.

I saw it on TV, read it in the bastard Sun;
now Iggy’s selling insurance. Fuckin’ ‘ell,
the war is over, and the bastards won.

To shoot the world with my high-calibre love gun,
or sit and swivel on a high-explosive shell?
Don’t try to tell me it would be more fun.

My brain’s in the laundry basket – better run
before they invent the pills to make me well.
The war is over, and the bastards won.

I’ll be a monk, and you can be a nun,
when they take me to my padded cell.
Don’t try to tell me it would be more fun,
the war is over, and the bastards won.


Notes: Sharp-eyed poetry nerds will recognise this as being a villanelle; a surprisingly versatile form, particularly good for ranting and raving with.

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