New Poem: An English Civil War

 

There are fields medieval, there’s an English civil war,

There’s a battle brewing up of every battle fought before.

There’s a burning bridge being built up to heaven on the moor,

There’s a man who’s done with praying and he’s preaching civil war.

Now,

Sitting in pubs he can rant a

Story that’s biblically dirty,

In cantankerous verses

That seem to consist

Of lines where the meter is slightly amiss.

But his preaching and speeching is done with such rhythm,

When he’s drinking and singing you sit still and listen.

He says “when Adam farmed and eve span,

Tell me who then was the gentleman?”

 

Each rant he spoke was punished.

Each word was sentenced treason,

Reason enough to stop him breathing.

But his wasn’t death like most of his brethren,

But exile and slavery in the Caribbean.

 

A Jamaican grave would welcome him.

This Yorkshire Sugar Cropper, this first and whitest slave,

Worked to death and buried in a sugar fertilizing grave.

 

This taproom fanatic gave his sermons to the poor,

Where he preached a burning vengeance for all battles lost before,

For the diggers tremble-waiting for the troopers by the door,

He sermoned flame redemption, and a burning of the law.

 

Though he was silenced in Jamaica, in that bog in Ranter’s bay,

His rants were caught in ‘bog with him and so couldn’t rot away,

So whilst his heaven lies unconquered and his banners have been furled,

His flock still preach redemption and the ending of the world.

 

Now.

In the hell they’re calling cities, there’s an English civil war,

There’s a battle breaking out of every battle fought before.

Men are counting down the minutes, whilst they gather on the moor,

To drill and train to fight again an English civil war.

 

So a woman hurries;

The clip clop of stolen wooden shoes

Between the metallic tick tock

Of the factory clock.

She brings news

From Manchester,

Lancashire and Staffordshire,

Newport and Lanarkshire.

The other shoeless men and women there,

Are planning new beginnings where

They get a say.

 

Truth is, no eyes recognise

The Brigante queen before them,

This Northern Boadicea

Who adores them

With everything she does,

Though the weapons laid before them

Were forged in the flame of her love.

 

Not being a man she has no speaking rights,

So she waits by the gates on most meeting nights.

 

But then county to county, town to town,

When lamps go up and the sun comes down she’s found:

War on her lips, love in her heart and bullets for all to hand round.

 

But even the luck of Cartimandua runs out.

 

So she’s flying and she’s running,

She’s trying to stop her stumbling,

Cos the horses hooves are thundering,

While the troopers chase her down.

 

Cos her name has travelled high,

To where princes like to dine,

And they want her back alive,

So they can take her secrets down.

 

So she’s running straight through hesitance,

With a hangman’s swinging confidence,

And she’s counting down the steps she takes,

Until she can look down.

 

Then her ankles twisted meaning

With her shoeless soles all bleeding,

She’s losing any feeling of the shabby moorland ground.

 

Now.

There’s a field medieval, where the Lorries all drive in,

There’s a spy who’s sent from London, there’s an army marching in,

There’s ranks of blue clad bruisers, men are driving over ‘moor,

And the roads are cleared ‘round Orgreave for an English civil war.

 

Shirtless and careless the miners gather to push and pull their way to the trucks that bring coal to the plant.

As they turn onto the road where the lorries unload, the cops turn and show them the road to the plant.

 

If there are two armies turning to face one another,

Then one of the armies must be deep undercover,

As men who don’t think they’re fighting a war,

But just here to picket the same as before.

 

On one side; slick trained soldiers, violence trembling in their hearts,

The other picking teams before their game of football starts.

 

Cos in this field medieval,

Only one side’s come to win,

They’re the one with dogs and horses

And vans to lock you in.

 

Those who fight for the lords wield nightsticks from armoured horses,

Well-armed, well paid and well ready.

On the other side they’re armed with anger at their bosses

And have to stand with their hands to keep their stomachs steady.

 

 

 

All time coheres in the breaking of a bone,

The Lord’s men are charging to chase rebel peasants home.

While the lambchopped baseball capped leader chants on a megaphone,

The single sound of snapping bone can’t swim through the sea of violence,

And the scream of a single man is cacaphoned into silence

So that eternity remains internal to one man, alone, in this field medieval and infernal.

 

Once more Lords of England have sent their thugs on horseback in,

To uphold the law and show the moors who doles out discipline,

Who waits and who is waited on, who’s brought an’ who brings in,

But if history will repeat itself, it first has to begin.
So.

There is a field medieval, there’s an English civil war.

There’s a battle building up of every battle fought before,

A man just finished smoking grinds his fag out on the moor,

And he makes a few quick phone calls cos he’s planning civil war.

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