Why do the People…

Meditations on Messiaen
Why do the people?

1

Divide and Conquer

They divided us into houses, Spartans and Trojans,
and encouraged us to compete with each other,
single combat, and then team against team,
house against house, eternal, internal civil war.

We divided ourselves into Cavaliers and Roundheads,
Monarchists and Parliamentarians, Protestants and Catholics,
and we continued those uncivil wars that marred the monarchy,
brought down the crown, and executed the Lord’s anointed.

We fought bitterly, tribe against tribe, religion against religion,
circumcised against uncircumcised, dorm against dorm,
class against class, territorial warfare. We defended our bounds,
bonding against all outsiders to guard each chosen ground.

With it came the denigration of the other. Not our class.
Scholarship boy. Wrong end of town. Wrong accent.
We don’t talk like that here. Speak the Queen’s English, you…
and here …. we inserted the appropriate word of vilification.

Our wars never ended. We carried them from prep school
to junior school, to senior school, sometimes changing
sides as we changed schools or houses, always clinging
grimly to our friends, protectors, and those we knew best.

After school, all those prejudices continued to hold us down,
haunted us through university, red-brick or inspired spires,
Trinity Oxford, Trinity Cambridge, or Trinity Dublin,
each gilded with the white sniff of snobbery that gelded us.

Alas, we carried them, piled in our intellectual rucksacks,
through university, into grad school, out into the wide world,
infinitely small minds based on prejudice and pride, continuing
our tribal warfare, unable to understand anything at all,
other than shoulder to shoulder, us or them, conquer and divide.

Click on the link below for Roger’s reading.

Why do the people?

Monkey Presses Delete

Monkey Presses Delete

Monkey loves walking behind the gorillas.
The gorillas break and enter:
and when they do, monkey simply points
and gorillas do their thing:
it’s that simple …

Monkey has a code word
that he took from his computer course.
“Delete!” he says with delight
and the gorillas delete whatever he points to.

Monkey loves burning other people’s books.
He also loves deleting parents
especially in front of their children,
and deleting children in front of their parents
can be just as exciting.

The delete button excites monkey:
maneuvering the mouse
tightens his scrotum
and he feels a kick like a baby’s
at the bottom of his belly
as he carefully selects his victim and
“Delete!”

The gorillas go into action:
ten, twenty, thirty, fifty, seventy years of existence
deleted
with a gesture and the click of an index finger
pointed like a gun.  

Monkey’s Clockwork Universe

Monkey’s Clockwork Universe

Some days, monkey winds himself up
like a clockwork mouse.
Other days he rolls over and over
with a key in his back
like a clockwork cat.

Monkey is growing old and forgetful.
He forgets where he has hidden the key,
pats his pockets, and slows right down
before he eventually finds it
and winds himself up again.

One day, monkey leaves the key
between his shoulder blades
in the middle of his back.

All day long, the temple monkeys
play with the key, turning it round and round,
and winding monkey’s clockwork,
tighter and tighter, until suddenly
the mainspring breaks

and monkey slumps at the table
no energy, no strength,
no stars, no planets, no moon at night,
the sun broken fatally down,
the clockwork of his universe
sapped, and snapped.

Comment: Monkey Temple is A Narrative Fable for Modern Times written in verse. The poems show strong links to Surrealism and Existential Philosophy. They portray the upside-down world of Carnival and out line Monkey’s Theory of the Absurd in a dystopian world that mirrors that of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, LaFontaine’s Fables, the esperpento of Valle-Inclan, and the witty conceptismo of Francisco de Quevedo. This is a walk through the jungle of the Jungian innermost mind. But watch out for those monkeys: they bite.

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Monkey and the Bean Counter

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Monkey and the Bean Counter

An acolyte in a charcoal suit runs by.
He neither stops nor speaks
but slips on slippery words
dripping from another monkey’s tongue.

This other monkey has eyes of asphalt,
a patented pewter soul,
ice water flowing in his veins.
“Hear no evil! See no evil! Speak no evil!”

The hatch of his mind is battened tightly down.
Nothing gets out nor in.
The acolyte’s fingers grasp at a khaki folder,
his manifesto for success.

Senior monkey stalks to his office
and turns on the radio.
His favorite music:
the clink of mounting money.

Disturb him at your peril:
this monkey is very important,
and very, very busy.
He’s also clever:
a real smarty.

First, he empties all the chocolate candies from the box
then he sorts them into little piles:
green with green, brown with brown,
blue with blue, red with red.

Then, like the Good Shepherd checking His flock,
he counts them again and again,
to ensure that none have been stolen
and not one has gone astray.

Comment: Another Golden Oldie, this time from Monkey Temple. I have updated it slightly so it won’t be exactly the same as it is in the printed text. Senior Monkey has, of course, built a bigger box into which he can place all his chocolate candies and tuck them away for ever and ever. I guess if he were a bull and not a monkey, he would have tucked them away for heifer and heifer. Such is the sad state of reality in the Monkey Temple. But if monkey were a bull, he would be living in the cow shed, not the Monkey Temple. Oh dear, oh dear: and oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive with fiction, flash fiction, creative non-fiction, and all the other sugar and spice which goes into the spinning of spider-webs and fairy tales. Speaking of which, did I ever tell you the story of the… well, maybe next time. So tune in again tomorrow. Same thyme, same plaice, and I’ll sing you a song of the fish in the sea… and a fishy tail that will be.

Monkey Throws Away the Keys

Monkey Throws Away the Keys

Monkey is tired of writing reports
that are never read.
He is fed up with frequently asked
questions and their unread answers.
To every lock, there is a key.
Monkey looks at the red and gold
locks of the last orang-utangs
and wonders how to unpick their DNA.

Monkey would give his kingdom
for a key, a key, a little silver key:
the key to a situation, the key to a heart,
the office key, the key to the door,
at twenty-one, the keys of fate,
the Florida keys, the key to San
Francisco’s Golden Gate,
a passe-partout, a skeleton key,
the key to Mother Hubbard’s cupboard,
where she hides dry bones …

On the last day, when monkey leaves work
he takes a lifetime of keys
and throws them down a deep dark well.

As they halve the distance to the water,
he listens to the sound of silence and wonders
if they’ll ever hit the bottom.

Monkey Temple:
the complete book, is available on KDP and Amazon.

Monkey’s Clockwork Universe

Monkey’s Clockwork Universe

Some days, monkey winds himself up
like a clockwork mouse.
Other days he rolls over and over
with a key in his back
like a clockwork cat.

Monkey is growing old and forgetful.
He forgets where he has hidden the key,
pats his pockets, and slows right down
before he eventually finds it
and winds himself up again.

One day, monkey leaves the key
between his shoulder blades
in the middle of his back.
All day long, the temple monkeys
play with the key,
turning it round and round,
and winding monkey’s clockwork,
tighter and tighter,
until suddenly, one day,
the mainspring breaks
and monkey slumps at the table:

no energy, no strength, no stars,
no planets, no moon at night,
the sun broken fatally down,
the clockwork of his universe
sapped, and snapped.

MT 2-5 Monkey Meets Pontius Parrot

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Monkey
Meets
Pontius Parrot
(With glorious  memories of Macarronic Latin)

 Pontius Parrot is very clever
and very pontifical.
He pontificates from his pulpit.
“Pretty Polly!”

His name isn’t Polly
and he doesn’t have a pulpit
but he parrots words
in Macaronic Latin:

“Caesar adsum jam forte.”

Pontius Parrot is
perky at the podium.
He bounces up and down,
preens himself prettily,
rattles his chains,
shakes his bars:

“Brutus aderat.”

 Shame and scandal
wear him down.
A dysfunctional family
of feathered friends
henpecked him
until he was black and blue
and threw up copiously:

 “Caesar sic in omnibus.”

He dips his wings in holy water,
calls for some soft soap,
and washes
feathers and claws.

Poor Pontius Parrot,
He can only say
“Repent!”

“Brutus sic in at.”

Comment: Anyone who suffered through school Latin, especially if they went to boarding school or grammar school, will recognize famous Macarronic Latin quotes such as the verb bendo, whackere, ouchi, sorebum, and the one the author of Monkey Temple reproduces in the above poem. If you are unfamiliar with Macarroni Latin and have had the good fortune to have avoided both grammar and boarding schools, just read the Latin normally in English and you will establish its Macarronic meaning.

MT 2-4 Monkey Visits the Chimpanzees’ Tea Party

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MT 2-4
Monkey Visits
the Chimpanzees’
Tea Party

Dressed to the nines in their gala outfits,
they have come here for the tea party.

Hairy penguins,
they waddle back and forth
across the temple,
then lunge for a table
with its jumbo shrimp,
smoked salmon,
scallops, baked oysters.

Faces slashed from ear to ear
by enormous grins,
“Food’s free!” they say
and stuff themselves
regardless of the consequences.

Serviettes tucked into collars,
they scoff lobster and crab.
Birds of Paradise,
subtle delicacies
flown in from half a world away,
decorate the tables.

There is something about them,
these chimpanzees,
gripping cup handles
between finger and thumb,
enormously pleased to be
the centre of attention,
however clumsily they walk
in their hired-for-the -occasion,
ill-fitting, black and whte
penguin suits.

MT 2-3 Monkey Visits the Poisonous Snakes

MT 2-3
Monkey Visits the Poisonous Snakes

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Monkey Visits the Poisonous Snakes

A swift death
was never their style,
the cobras, the vipers,
the adders and subtractors,
the bean counters and snatchers,
the diminutive dudes.

They prefer death
by blow-gun
their poison dart
injected through
hollowed fangs

or Chinese Water Torture,
the slow drip after drip
of poison inserted into ears
and veins, a drop at a time,
and slowly gathering …

… until their victim slows down,
ceases to struggle,
stands there, eyes open,
unable to move,
poisoned and paralysed.

Comment: with all the exciting things that are happening concerning my new poetry writing, I forgot all about my monkeys. It seems they have been bouncing up and down, fretting in their cages, bounding all over the ruined, broken-down temple, poor little blighters. Apparently, on their last visit to the rest of Bristol Zoo, they left the big snakes and decided to visit the little, poisonous ones. I guess they didn’t like them at all. Does anyone? I hope there are no ‘snakes in the grass’ near you, and I don’t mean grass snakes. And watch out for snake charmers, some of those snakes believe more in harm than charms.

PS Let me know if you want a voice text. I haven’t recorded this one yet.

MT 2-2 Monkey Visits the Snake Pit

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Monkey Visits the Snake Pit

Monkey’s masculine penis envy
focuses on the great snakes,
pythons, boa-constrictors, anacondas,
basking beneath hot-house lights
that maintain a rigid temperature,
desert and jungle warmth and moisture
ready at the flick of a switch.

They lounge in glass cubicles,
checking each other out
for size, weight, length, girth,
with a roll of the eye and a casual flicker
of a forked lightning tongue.

Fed for far too long
on fetched food
from the untroubled tenured trough,
many have become sedentary,
and much too comfortable

to even think about
renewing their lives,
or sloughing their skins.